Local Lawmakers: Wolf Tax Hikes Unwanted
COOPERSBURG - State legislators from Lehigh and Schuylkill counties today said they will continue to oppose the retroactive, broad-based tax increase being pushed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Speaking at a news conference in Coopersburg, the state House members called on the governor to release badly needed education funding to school districts and back off his demands for increases in the state income tax. Wolf vetoed $3 billion in education funds from the 2015-16 state budget on Dec. 29, as leverage for additional taxes to pay for increased state spending.

“The governor’s insistence on much higher taxes is putting public education funding in jeopardy,” said Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton/Montgomery). “Gov. Wolf is holding education funds hostage to his demands while sending school districts directions on how to close.” “But we are hearing our constituents loud and clear: They don’t want these higher taxes.”

Simmons was joined by Reps. Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill/Carbon/Berks), Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Dauphin) and local business people who spoke in opposition to the Wolf tax plan at the offices of the Coopersburg Family Practice.

“This practice is a jobs-supporting small business,” said Simmons. “In fact, 65 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses, and 80 percent of small businesses pay the Personal Income Tax that Gov. Wolf wants to increase. That will slow job creation in Pennsylvania.”

The lawmakers were joined by Dr. Douglas Shoenberger of the Family Practice, as well as John Williams of Farmers Insurance of Emmaus and Bill Roy, an Emmaus realtor.
“Individuals and businesses alike have told us they will be hurt by these sizable increases in the income tax that the administration wants,” said Tobash. “Those tax hikes would negatively impact local families’ ability to balance their budgets and businesses’ ability to create jobs.”

In addition to cutting more than a half of the state’s basic education subsidy with his December veto, the governor also cut important health-related lines from the budget passed by the General Assembly.

“Holding public schools and important health care programs hostage is no way to negotiate a state budget,” said Knowles. “The governor must release the $3 billion in public education money he cut out of the 2015-16 budget before schools are forced to close.

“The governor’s veto cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from diabetes screening, regional cancer institutes, regional poison control centers and other important health services just to make a political point,” Knowles continued. “He’s holding back $6 billion in state funds and he doesn’t feel these types of programs are important priorities?”
Tobash said House Republicans are calling for a close review of state spending through a program they call PennSAVE, before asking taxpayers to pick up the cost of additional state spending.

“We need to ensure savings, accountability, value and efficiency in every dollar the state spends,” said Tobash. “Through PennSAVE, we will require the state to look more closely at expenditures and invite the public to submit their savings ideas as well.”
For more information on Simmons and his legislative priorities, please visit RepSimmons.com or Facebook.com/RepSimmons.

Representative Justin Simmons
131st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tom Pyne
Rick Leiner
RepSimmons.com / Facebook.com/RepSimmons