Governor Tom Wolf announced his 2021-22 budget proposal yesterday. The plan calls for $1.5 billion more dollars for education. Most of his proposed increase in funding would flow through the fair funding formula enacted five years ago. $1.35 billion of his proposal would be distributed as part of the basic education subsidy, which allows schools to use the money for primary operations.
The proposal would bring the total distributed through the basic education subsidy to $8.1 billion. This would provide a significant increase to schools. However, it’s important to remember this is only Wolf’s proposal.
To pay for this large increase in education funding as well as other proposed initiatives, Wolf is proposing an increase in the personal income tax. That increase would not impact all taxpayers based on the proposal. Some tax payers would end up paying less taxes while the highest earners would pay more. Wolf is also calling for other income generators in the budget, however the personal income tax increase would bring in the most money.
Opposition to the budget has already begun. Tax increases are unpopular – even if a portion of the population won’t actually pay more taxes. And, there is a provision in the Pennsylvania Constitution that does not allow unequal tax rates. Budget hearings will begin soon to discuss Wolf’s most ambitious proposal yet.