The tax shifts and additional spending proposed in Gov. Tom Wolf’s first budget are enough to keep Pennsylvania lawmakers arguing for weeks.
They can’t even agree on how much the Pennsylvania budget calls for spending.
Wolf calls his proposal a $29.9 billion budget.
But Republicans put the total at more like $33.7 billion — once the billions being put into special funds to pay for pension costs and proposed property tax relief are counted.
The state budget, historically, has lots of special accounts that aren’t included in the final figure, said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa.
“To say that we’re moving things offline to deceive people is inappropriate, is really not the case. It’s really not,” said Costa. “We have a ton of stuff offline.”
Republican Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne is not convinced.
“Really, it’s an accounting move. There’s really no substance to it other than – [Wolf’s] setting a benchmark to say that we’re setting aside so we make the payments,” Browne said. “It’s a reclass, we’re still servicing those payments through general fund receipts.
Lawmakers also use different figures to refer to Wolf’s proposed tax package.
It comes to more than $4 billion.
But that drops to $2.5 billion when accounting for Wolf’s property tax relief plan, his administration said.