Phoenixville, Pa. – Today, Governor Tom Wolf was joined by local leaders to highlight the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s strong finances and call for major investments to give Pennsylvania families, workers and businesses a brighter future.
“The commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in a strong financial position right now. That’s why it’s so important for us to use this opportunity to help Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf. “People all across the commonwealth are still recovering from the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inflation is high, and everything from groceries to gas is a little more expensive than it used to be.
“More than ever before, this is the time to invest in helping our people get back on their feet. That’s why I’m calling for action, and for major investments to make life a little bit easier for all Pennsylvanians.”
Over the past seven years, the Wolf Administration has righted Pennsylvania’s shaky finances through sound fiscal management and smart investments.
When Gov. Wolf took office, Pennsylvania was operating with a $2-3 billion structural deficit, and the Rainy Day Fund had fallen to a mere $231,800.
Today, the Rainy Day Fund contains $2.8 billion to protect Pennsylvania against future emergencies, and Gov. Wolf is expected to transition a multi-billion dollar budget surplus to the next administration. Gov. Wolf will be the first governor to leave office with a budget surplus since Governor Dick Thornburgh in 1987.
The governor’s budget plan is balanced based on available, recurring General Fund revenues. In Pennsylvania, the past seven years have shown a steady tax revenue increase of $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion a year, and revenues continue to show healthy growth.
On Tuesday the Department of Revenue released its February 2022 collections, which were 6.8 percent more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $28.6 billion, which is $2 billion, or 7.5 percent, above estimate.
“My plan to invest in the people of Pennsylvania is both bold and responsible,” said Gov. Wolf. “Contrary to what you may hear from fiscal scaremongers, my plan only relies on available, recurring revenue – not one-time funding sources. Even if my plan is followed exactly, Pennsylvania will still have a more than$3 billion surplus at the end of the year, above and beyond the $2.8 billion that will remain in the Rainy Day Fund.”
Gov. Wolf’s plan for 2022-23 calls for major investments in our schools, our workforce, our economy, and more.
Gov. Wolf has made education a top priority throughout his administration, including historic investments in our schools and our students. This plan builds on that strong foundation with an additional $1.9 billion to benefit students from pre-k through college, including a $1.55 billion increase in basic education funding.
This investment will give schools the resources they need to provide a world class education to students, while reducing the burden on local communities. It may also help local governments reduce their reliance on local property taxes.
“Smart investments aren’t a burden to taxpayers,” said Gov. Wolf. “They’re a down payment on a better future for all of us. Smart investments now that help Pennsylvanians thrive can actually help lower costs to taxpayers in the future. Education is a great example of this.
“Pennsylvania has the capacity right now to invest in the things that can make our commonwealth a better place to live, learn and work. We should seize the opportunity to do just that.”
Gov. Wolf was joined by Department of Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell, Representative Danielle Otten and Representative Melissa Shusterman to discuss how the state’s strong finances give lawmakers the resources they need to make life-changing investments for Pennsylvanians.
“Our commonwealth is in a much stronger fiscal position today than we were in two years ago when the pandemic dropped a hammer on Pennsylvania’s economy,” Sec. Hassell said. “Revenue collections are strong thanks in part to Gov. Wolf’s strong management and the stimulus funds that have flowed into Pennsylvania from the federal government. Economists expect our economic recovery to continue, which makes this the time to make the historic investments that the governor is calling for in his budget proposal.”
“We enter the final budget season of Governor Wolf’s term in a strong financial position, with an historic state revenue surplus that allows us to address urgent needs across our commonwealth without raising taxes or drawing down our Rainy-Day Fund,” said Rep. Otten. “The General Assembly has both an opportunity and an obligation this year to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians, and I support the governor’s call for major investments in education, our workforce, and our economy. We will continue to fight for a final budget that both helps Pennsylvanians who are struggling today and makes crucial investments in the future of our commonwealth.”
“Through Governor Wolf’s leadership, Pennsylvania is recovering from the Pandemic in a place of economic strength,” said Rep. Shusterman. “Responsible budgeting has led to a large budget surplus, as well as state savings. The time is now to leverage our state’s strong financial position to invest in Pennsylvanians through funding for working families, and supporting small businesses.”
“We have a unique opportunity in Pennsylvania to invest and uplift communities, families, and residents,” said Sen. Comitta. “This includes investments to preserve and protect our environment and natural resources, support and engage students in and out of the classroom, increase mental and health care services, and build up our economic and workforce programs. This year’s budget represents an unprecedented opportunity to help ensure a better, brighter, healthier, and most prosperous future for all Pennsylvanians.”