Here’s how Pa. politicians reacted to Gov. Wolf’s 2022 budget proposal

State lawmakers and officials shared their thoughts on Wolf’s 2022 budget proposal on social media and through official statements

By: - February 8, 2022 12:44 pm

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with the press. (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

(*This story was updated at 3:34 pm. on Tuesday 2/8/22 with additional comment.)

Following Gov. Tom Wolf’s annual budget address Tuesday, state lawmakers and officials shared their thoughts on the administration’s $43.7 million 2022 budget proposal on social media and through official statements.

Below are reactions from Pennsylvania politicians on Wolf’s budget address and proposal:

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre/Republican candidate for governor:
“Pennsylvanians will not forget how terribly the Wolf Administration mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic. Now he is trying to buy back the support of alienated voters by using money that we already planned to invest in the health, safety and prosperity of our citizens in the years ahead. Instead of caving in to Gov. Wolf’s transparent attempt to distract from his past failures, we will work to pass a realistic and responsible budget that meets the core needs of our communities and puts people first.”

Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland:
“It’s important that we help Pennsylvanians move beyond the financial strains we have all felt the last couple of years due to the pandemic, and work towards helping our businesses and our families to move forward. Shaking off the negative economic impacts is easier said than done. Every action that affects our economy and that we take as a government should be to help, not hinder. A spending increase of $4.5 billion will not be helpful. It will only intensify the personal financial pressures on Pennsylvanians in the form of higher taxes, energy prices, and the overall economic conditions confronting our nation including inflation and supply chain disruptions. Spending billions right now may sound appealing, but that can’t be done in a vacuum. Pennsylvanians will pay for that. Pennsylvania’s budget requires discipline that continues to move the Commonwealth towards a path of economic stability and success, not a budget that saddles our families with legacy payments. This budget kind of reminds me of Wimpy from the Popeye cartoon – ‘I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.’ It doesn’t work.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairperson Pat Browne, R-Lehigh:
“While this year’s revenues continue to outpace estimates, the long-term financial picture for the Commonwealth remains uncertain. The Governor’s revenue and spending projections over the next several years are unrealistic, do not align with traditional rates of growth and will make worse our existing structural imbalance. Using more traditional growth rates that are in line with those used by the Commonwealth’s Independent Fiscal Office, the Commonwealth will see a negative balance of $13 billion by FY 2026-27 if the Governor’s spending becomes law. Given those concerns, the Governor’s proposal for major increases in spending is very troubling. If enacted, his proposal will require large tax increases to Pennsylvania taxpayers and job creators to meet the level of spending the Governor proposes.”

House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster: 

“Gov. Wolf may see today’s address as a coronation of his time in office, but for the eighth straight year, it falls on the Legislature to rein in calls to dramatically increase state spending.

“Our caucus has consistently supported data-driven, targeted investments to move our Commonwealth forward as we once again recognize this budget is not about the man making the requests, but about the people who will ultimately have to pay the bill.”

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre: 

“The irresponsible plan proposed today increases spending by $17 million per day. If I were not actually here to see it, I would not believe such a terrible idea would actually be put forward by this governor.

“We literally cannot afford to bring Washington, D.C.-style runaway spending policies to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Pennsylvanians were offered from Gov. Wolf today – more of the same Biden-style Build Back Broke policies that have brought this country record inflation, higher gas prices and significant labor shortages.

“After years of hard work by Republicans in this General Assembly to ensure these kinds of nonsensical proposals from the administration do not become law, it is surprising Gov. Wolf still just does not get it.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Stan Saylor, R-York:

“When we enacted the current year budget in June, there was widespread agreement that we needed to take a multi-year approach to manage our state finances over the next several years. Now the governor seems to have drifted off into a fiscal fantasy land where there is zero concern for our financial footing after he is gone. The governor’s massive spending spree proposed today will squander the entirety of our reserves and leave the next governor with massive budget deficits, with no reserves to combat it, and would guarantee the need to raise taxes.”

State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Philadelphia/chairperson of the Legislative Black Caucus: 

“Continuing our work in addressing issues that impact communities of color will remain our focus as we move forward in this year, reaching out to the governor in urging his support for meaningful initiatives. We’ve been able to secure funding for important programs that combat community and gun violence but so much more work needs to be done. We will remain steadfast in our determination to provide guidance to the governor on these and other issues that are of importance to the people of Pennsylvania who are affected by these particular issues, like fair education funding, access to healthcare, environmental justice and programs to combat gun violence, to name a few.”

State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny/vice-chairperson of the Legislative Black Caucus: 

“The governor’s budget address is just the first step in the long process of crafting a budget that benefits as many Pennsylvanians as possible. We need to draft a spending plan that funds fixes to our toxic schools, ensures fair wages for all workers, and helps folks who are struggling to pay their bills. It’s time to get to work and create a budget that is fair and equitable for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of where they live, how they look, or what they do for a living.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity: 

State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny: 

State Sen. Amanda Capelletti, D-Delaware:

State Sen. John Kane, D-Chester: 

State Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware: 

State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware: 

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia: 

State Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Tioga: 

“After years of work by House Republicans to get the state on firmer financial footing, the governor is seeking to squander it all in a single year. I can’t think of a more irresponsible way to ‘budget’ the taxpayers’ money. And I can’t think of a more selfish way for a man who is looking at his last year in office to try to erase his legacy of shutting down our schools, our employers and our Commonwealth.

“The governor’s proposal is nothing more than a fiscal fantasy. Rather than rely on the experts – the nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office – to crunch the numbers, he has chosen his own numbers of unknown origin to sugarcoat reality. We are facing the highest rate of inflation in decades, and that will undoubtedly be followed by a period of recession. We will not be equipped to weather that recession if we buy into the governor’s voodoo math.

“Despite his comments to the contrary, our finances aren’t all rainbows and skittles. If we want to build a solid future for our Commonwealth, and spare our kids and their kids the burden of higher taxes, now is the time for fiscal restraint and reason.”

State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny/Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor: 

“Today’s proposal outlines a plan that touches on many of the priorities that matter most to working-class families in Pennsylvania.

“I’m encouraged to see the proposed increase in education funding, which builds on our previous investments in education and is a solid step toward bringing fair funding to underserved school districts. These investments in our schools, teachers and, most importantly, our children, advances access to education at every level and will help ensure that every child – regardless of Zip code – will have the chance to succeed and grow to their full potential.

“Along with historic investments in infrastructure by the federal government, this budget represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our communities and in the people of Pennsylvania. From our roads and bridges, which we know need work, to job training and investing in our small businesses, this budget will advance our commonwealth’s economic recovery and position Pennsylvania to be a competitive player not just nationally, but across the globe.”

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh: 

“The increased funding for Level Up, basic education and special education will go a long way toward supporting Pennsylvania students at a critical time in our commonwealth’s future. School districts need every bit of help we can give them, and the plan put forth by Governor Wolf is a solid one. During the current budget year, I was proud to lead the charge on Level Up funding to help our most underfunded school districts and, if enacted, this spending proposal would continue the progress we started last year. It would also make substantial investments in growing school districts like Parkland, ensuring that Parkland would continue to have the resources it needs to be successful.”

State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny: 

“Every day, Pennsylvanians call my office needing help, and this document shows that our state government can and should provide the support and investment that they need.”

Frankel added that as he’s said before, the budget is a reflection of our values as a commonwealth. To that end, he noted, Wolf’s proposal acknowledges the enormous needs that remain after two years of weathering a global pandemic.

Frankel said that caring for our most vulnerable citizens is a moral obligation that needs attention now rather than later, financially speaking, too.

“These needs do not go away if you fail to meet them – they get worse. More people suffer, and the problems become more difficult and more expensive to solve,” Frankel said.

State Rep. Torren Ecker, R-Adams:

“Once again we heard from the governor about how much he likes to spend other people’s money when he proposed to increase spending by nearly 17% in the coming year’s budget. This is surely an unsustainable increase that will leave a wake of tax increases, footed by hard-working taxpayers, long after Wolf leaves office in less than a year.

“The governor based his spending plan on inaccurate revenue projections that are $5 billion higher than expectations by the Independent Fiscal Office. This is not the first time the governor has blatantly ignored the nonpartisan budget watchdog. Just a couple weeks ago, the governor and House Democrats led a successful effort to suppress a report by the office on education spending which found there is no correlation between increased spending to improved test scores. Yet today the governor proposed a nearly 17% increase in spending without having the benefit of reviewing or discussing the report.

“We have wonderful, hard-working staff at the state level who supply us in the General Assembly, as well as the governor, with mountains of reliable budget information. But instead of using this information, Wolf decided to create unrealistic budget expectations to back his want to spend even more money.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I look forward to starting budget hearings next week to look at the real financial numbers to create a budget that truly reflects our fiscal state and respects taxpayers.”

State Rep. Napoleon Nelson, D-Montgomery: 

“No budget can be considered adequate if it is not investing in addressing the health, wealth, education, and justice systems that hold up or hold down members of our communities. My focus during this budget process is on education, indigent defense, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring affordable housing access for everyone. If our residents don’t have a place where they can lay their head each night, the rest of this work can never be truly complete.”

State Rep. Aaron Bernstine, R-Lawrence: 

“It’s easy for a lame duck governor to propose a massive spending wish list when he knows he won’t be around to clean up the economic mess he caused. Families are dealing with record-setting inflation, higher prices, and supply chain shortages because of excessive government spending and borrowing. We don’t need to set them up for future tax hikes too. The governor’s proposed 16.6% increase in spending is a slap in the face to taxpayers who are already being asked to pay more for everything.

“Time and time again, Harrisburg has proven it has no restraint when it comes to growing government and spending responsibly. Now is the time to enact the Taxpayer Protection Act and put in place constitutional spending limits that will permanently curb chronic overspending like the governor is proposing.”

State Rep. Bridget Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna: 

“Today we were presented with a very bold final budget from the governor, one that leaves a lasting legacy for our health care system, students, and educators. I applaud the proposal to protect our most vulnerable population by providing an additional $91 million to increase Medical Assistance rates for skilled nursing facilities and an additional $7 million for county health departments; critical to Lackawanna Country as it advances the creation of a health department.

“We saw some really strong investments made in Pennsylvania’s public health workforce and infrastructure with a 12% increase to enhance the commonwealth’s public health workforce. And of course, I am very pleased to see the direction we are taking in funding our public education system. I applaud Governor Wolf for prioritizing so many impactful issues and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to pass an on-time budget that prioritizes these issues.”

State Rep. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny: 

“Today’s budget address serves as a blueprint that ensures the issues facing hardworking Pennsylvanians are not only recognized but also prioritized. It’s vitally important that we not only consider making the governor’s proposed investments, but that we, as a legislature, recognize this as an opportunity to work together with the shared goal of advancing our economic recovery.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues so that we don’t waste this unique chance to responsibly invest in our communities. The governor’s budget is reflective of the ideals and issues important to families in the 36th District and across the commonwealth.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.

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