Senator Elder Vogel issued the following statement on the proposed $33.2 billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 that Governor Tom Wolf unveiled before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday.
“I look forward to working with Governor Wolf and my colleagues in the General Assembly over the coming months to deliver a balanced and responsible state budget.
“I plan to take a closer look at the $1.2 billion spending increase proposed by Governor Wolf. I agree with the countless constituents of my district who insist that we must find greater efficiencies in state government instead of taking money out of their pockets.
“As the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, I am happy to see that the budget for Agriculture has not been cut to the extremes it has been in past budgets, but there are some critical areas that will need restored. I also am pleased to see a proposed increase in education funding including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives and for career and technical studies. Focusing on job preparedness is imperative.
“The Governor continues to push a severance tax on natural gas extraction which I find to be troubling. I have personally seen the loss of jobs in my district as natural gas companies have been forced to lay off workers due to low gas prices and policies that inhibit progress. Natural gas companies already pay hundreds of millions of dollars in state taxes and have paid over $1.2 billion to municipalities through impact fees since 2011. Jobs and livelihoods depend on the natural gas sector. We should not pass another tax that will chase them away.
“During Appropriations hearings over the next several weeks, the priority will be finding out the details of this budget to ensure that our taxpayers are protected from wasteful spending. Thorough vetting by the Appropriations Committee is required and I look forward to determining what is best for our taxpayers and the agricultural community.”