Some Budget Questions for Tom Wolf

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Tom Wolf is taking to Facebook today to answer questions on his proposed Pennsylvania budget. I doubt many Facebook folks are interested but I have a few budget questions.

Some, perhaps most, politicians have a dim condescending view of their constituents because so many are swayed by incredibly shallow campaign ads with only the slightest connection to the truth. They begin to believe they actually can fool all the people all the time. Pennsylvania Governor Tom “Tax and Spend” Wolf is that kind of personality and later today at 1:30 PM will go on Facebook to conduct a “live town hall” and take questions on his proposed budget. We see more and more of these gimmicks as politicos move further away from the people in real life but still want to maintain at least the facade of a town hall.

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This Facebook town hall event will, it can be safely predicted, be a modern-day Potemkin Village exercise where Wolf explains all he wants to do for education, Pennsylvania and the people without having to answer a single embarrassing question or wipe that ever-present smile off his face. No, he’ll take questions from people such as the guy who left this comment on his Facebook page, which speaks for itself as to naivety:

This is a decent budget. People need to understand that if you want a balanced budget, there is going to be tax increases. 3.07 to 3.7% is not bad. It is much lower than other states. Also 6-6.6% is long overdue.

Still, one wishes it might be otherwise – a real town hall on social media where the governor was forced to take hard questions and the questioners were allowed follow-ups to challenge the spin – could be great fun. Here are some of the budget questions, I’d ask:

  1. Governor Wolf, why did you choose the Coatesville Area School District to make your announcement of your proposed severance tax when you knew it had just fired its Superintendent for financial mismanagement?
  2. Governor Wolf, are you aware the Coatesville Area School District, your Chester County severance tax poster child also has a tax base and income level more than 60% above average?
  3. Why, Governor Wolf, do you continue to suggest Pennsylvania students receive less education funding than other states when, in fact, we are ranked 10th in the nation for spending per student?
  4. Isn’t it disingenuous, Governor Wolf, to suggest your proposed severance tax is modest when, in fact, it sets a floor gas price way above the actual, making your proposed tax perhaps the highest in the country?
  5. Isn’t it true, Governor Wolf, that Pennsylvania already does have a tax on natural gas in the form of a widely accepted impact fee arrangement, contrary to your assertion?
  6. Isn’t it also true, Governor Wolf, that your severance tax, combined with Pennsylvania’s extraordinarily high corporate income tax, would make the Commonwealth even less business-friendly than it is now, compared to, say, Texas?
  7. Governor Wolf, isn’t true that you really want this severance tax to help paper over Pennsylvania’s public pension fraud?
  8. Governor Wolf, why are you proposing to raise funding for the Delaware River Basin Commission, which refuses to issue gas drilling regulations completed over three years ago, when you know their adoption would lead to more revenue to the Commonwealth and help your budget?
  9. Governor Wolf, why do you want to penalize an industry that has worked for Pennsylvania in sharp contrast to the experience of neighboring New York?
  10. Governor Wolf, are you trying to kill gas drilling in Pennsylvania to please Tom Steyer and your special interest friends?

Not that I’m expecting any answers, but perhaps some of you will ask anyway.


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