OP-ED An Alternative to Raising Taxes in Pennsylvania
Article by Brandon Posner.
October marks three months since Pennsylvania’s state budget deadline passed, but what does the Commonwealth have to show for it? A $32 billion spending plan with no plans to fund it, a credit downgrade, and a key leader’s vacation to Paris.
Pennsylvania’s state budget situation hasn’t covered national headlines, but it is certainly a spectacle worth reading about. Lawmakers were in a crunch to meet the budget deadline, so they passed a $32 billion spending plan without a plan for revenue.
Yes, you read that correctly. The state government in Pennsylvania actually passed a spending bill before deciding how to fund it. The problem is there is still no funding plan on the table, and real consequences are materializing as a result of democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s inaction.
In September, rating agency Standard & Poor’s announced they were downgrading Pennsylvania credit rating. The downgrade places Pennsylvania in S&P’s bottom five states and will cost taxpayers an estimated $53 million in additional annual interest payments.
You would think this was the wake-up call Pennsylvania needed. It wasn’t.
The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to conduct budget negotiations when the Senate President decides to take a vacation to Paris, France for a Senate Presidents’ Conference in the midst of this crisis.
At the same time, he and Governor Wolf turned their sights to hardworking, taxpaying Pennsylvania families to make up the 2.2 billion gap the state needs to close.
As you can imagine, Pennsylvania voters were furious. This week, polling indicated that Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) is in big trouble in Pennsylvania should he seek re-election.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans have held the line on taxes and spending vowing to voters that they will not raise taxes. They have signaled to the Governor on multiple occasions that they are prepared to talk about revenue-generating alternatives.
Yes, there are alternatives to raising taxes in Pennsylvania. One viable alternative is online gambling.
Supporting online gambling will help bring approximately 200 million in revenue in the latest Republican Senate package bill. Simply put, it’s a long-term solution to the state’s budgetary woes and it is not necessarily a controversial issue.
While online gambling can save Pennsylvania taxpayers from Governor Wolf’s proposed crushing tax burden, it is a plan that can come to the aid of many states struggling to close deficits without raising taxes.
Even at the federal level, this is something we should look at to help put a long-term solution to our budget. Lawmakers like Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, should oppose RAWA and support online gambling to help raise revenues in Pennsylvania.
The American Gaming Association, in a testimony before a congressional subcommittee, estimated that legalizing online poker alone would generate roughly 2 billion a year in new tax revenues. It’s the perfect alternative to raising taxes.
Pennsylvania families should not, and need not, be slammed with an additional tax burden to make up for Governor Wolf’s incompetence. Online gambling presents one possible policy solution to help close the gap without raising taxes.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views or beliefs of ForLiberty.News
Brandon Posner is the founder and former Chair of the Pennsylvania Teenage Republicans. He graduated from the College of William & Mary with honors studying Economics, and he is pursuing his Masters degree at William & Mary’s Mason School of Business. He is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Image Credit: By Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons