HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican lawmakers are using budget hearings to question Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s assumptions for revenue from a minimum wage increase and a new tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production. Tuesday’s start of House and Senate hearings featured the nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office and the Department of Revenue.
Wolf’s $32.3 billion budget plan has won praise from Republicans for its modest spending increase and efforts to save money. But they’re criticizing its reliance on $1 billion in tax increases to help fill Pennsylvania’s stubborn post-recession deficit. GOP leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature blame the deficit on too much spending, not inadequate revenue. Matthew Knittel (NIT-uhl) of the Independent Fiscal Office says a recent analysis concluded that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour would boost economic activity.