July 28, 2017
When we told Pennsylvanians to hold their applause after the Legislature submitted only half a budget — the spending half — by the state's June 30 deadline, we should have also advised all to hold on to their wallets, too.
Sure enough, a spending plan approved 26-24 by the Senate on Thursday offers a smorgasbord of tax hikes totaling at least $551 million. Contained therein is something for everyone to dislike, from higher consumption taxes on natural gas and electricity to levies on certain online purchases from Amazon, eBay and other vendors.
And, yes, the upper-chamber invertebrates gave in on Gov. Wolf's grail: a severance tax on Marcellus shale gas.
Even with all this extra money grubbing, another bill will allow the commonwealth's compulsive spenders to borrow $1.3 billion from the state's annual share of tobacco-settlement money.
And for this we get mea culpas from senators after Pennsylvanians have been tax-jacked four times in the last eight years? The legislation now goes to the House.
Rather than sell off the state's liquor monopoly and cut the estimated $800 million in corporate welfare, along with horse-racing subsidies and film tax credits, the Senate instead went pocket diving. But if last year's $650 million in tax increases didn't balance the books, what makes anyone think this year's effort will fare any better?
Here's hoping for more order, and restraint, from the House.