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Mixed lawmaker reactions on governor's proposed tax increase

A key aspect of Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021 budget proposal, raising the state income tax on some workers, has received mixed reactions from lawmakers.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A key aspect of Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021 budget proposal, raising the state income tax on some workers, has received mixed reactions from lawmakers.

Under the budget proposal, the state tax rate would rise from the current 3.07 percent to 4.49 percent, starting in July.

The tax raise would apply to individuals making more than $49,000 or families making more than $84,000.

Others would get a tax cut. Overall, 67 percent of taxpayers would see their taxes lowered or stay the same, according to the governor’s office.

“The question isn’t whether taxes are unpleasant or necessary, or both. The real question is whether everybody is paying a fair share and whether we are all getting our money’s worth,” Gov. Wolf said during his 2021 Budget Address.

Senate Republicans heavily criticized the proposal, saying workers shouldn’t have to pay more taxes amid the pandemic.

“We can see that it was full of massive tax increases and massive spending. I find that a little tone deaf to what is happening here in Pennsylvania, when our economy is in shambles because of COVID,” said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland).

The changes would net the state an additional $3 billion each year, according to the governor’s office.

Senate Democrats praised the budget proposal as a start to solving Pennsylvania’s long-term budget deficit.

“There are some laudable goals outlined here by our governor and many of the investments reflect requests we have seen from constituents across the state,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said in a statement.

The budget will have to pass the House and Senate, both Republican-controlled.

Leadership of both parties stressed the need to find compromise so the budget can be finalized and signed by the state deadline, June 30.