STATEMENT: KRC On Gov. Wolf's Budget Address
HARRISBURG – Following Governor Wolf's budget address, Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center, made the following statement:
“Governor Wolf hit a home run today by refocusing discussion around what Pennsylvanians WANT from their state government.
"He underscored, first, that Pennsylvanians want an economy that delivers decent jobs. The presidential election made abundantly clear that Pennsylvanians—and Americans—are tired of an economy that fails to deliver for most people. Governor Wolf wants to take a major step towards fixing that by immediately lifting The Pennsylvania minimum-wage to $12 per hour, which would benefit 1.5 million people, a quarter of Pennsylvania workers. He also underscored that this is just a starting point—his Middle Class Task Force represents a historic opportunity to spell out what state government can do for the rest of the 90%, most of whose incomes and wages have been stagnant for decades. Across the political spectrum and the country, broad agreement exists that the economy is rigged against regular people. Governor Wolf has laid the foundation for Pennsylvania to lead the nation in changing that—to offer real solutions to Pennsylvania's anxious middle class in areas rural and urban, not a con job that exploits people's anxiety.
"Governor Wolf also recognized that people want efficient and effective government. He outlined promising steps to improve government services further in a state that already has the second smallest state and local government workforce relative to all employment. Drawing on his business experience, he aims to take a scalpel, not a meat cleaver, to Pennsylvania state government. He also proposes to work collaboratively, and smartly, with frontline employees to deliver the best services that money can buy.
"Our one reservation about the governor's budget is that it does not raise enough revenue for investments essential to a strong 21st-century middle class. It does propose some strategic investment in manufacturing and apprenticeship training; but it does not seek, for example, to give rural Pennsylvanians the community colleges they lack (and for which there would be bipartisan legislative support).
"We look forward to working with the governor and with the Pennsylvania legislature to flesh out and implement an economic agenda for Pennsylvania's middle class. We also look forward to working with them to fix Pennsylvania's upside-down tax system so that the state has the resources for the investments and services people want and need in the economy and society of today."