tv Pennsylvania Governor Delivers the Annual Budget Address CSPAN February 25, 2021 7:20pm-7:41pm EST
pennsylvania governor tom wulf proposed a tax policy change calling for a minimum wage increase and additional investment in education and infrastructure. from harrisburg, this is 20 minutes. >> my fellow pennsylvanian's, these days are different and so is this budget speech i am talking to you from the governor's residence in harrisburg, and it's perhaps the only time in the last century a governor has not made the annual budget address in person you in the capitol, with much of harrisburg and front today, i am talking to my fellow pennsylvanian's directly. maybe this is the way it ought
to be done. after all, i work for you. i came here to do a job for you. and today, i want to tell you how i think this budget will make your lives better. i arrived here a little over six years ago. i was a newcomer to elected politics, having spent most of my life and business. i aimed to be a different kind of governor, and wanted to cut through the stale conventions, the entrenched interests and old excuses. i wanted to get things done. one of the first things i did was to try to get to know the capital and people who work there. i walked through its halls, met with senators and representatives of both parties hoping to introduce myself and put faces to names. one of those faces belong to a conservative republican sent here by rural voters from a remote area of the commonwealth. i went into the conversation knowing there would be
differences between us. i told him i could hopefully work with him anyway, and he said he would like that. then he said something that has stuck with me ever since. he told me that his approach to the job was pretty straightforward. he tried to always stay focused on addressing the real challenges that most of his constituents faced in their daily lives. to maintain that focus, he told me he would like to put himself in the shoes of a young family just starting out he tried to imagine the obstacles that might be getting in the way of their hopes and dreams, the burdens that kept them up at night, things like paying the rent or mortgage, keeping up with car payments and insurance bills. and what about the kids, braces, summer camp, college applications? it's easy to dream about the better life you might be able to provide for your children, but it's mighty expensive to make it happen. in a family like that, what do
they truly need? but they definitely don't need is a bigger financial burden piled on top of them in the form of higher taxes. i guess i shouldn't have been surprised that that's where the conversation wound up. still, as i walked out of his office, it struck me that despite coming from different places, geographically and politically, we both came to the job of public service trying to answer the same questions. what do people need to be able to build a brighter future here in pennsylvania? what are the barriers that get in their way? what can we do to help remove those barriers? if you were to ask a young family whether they enjoyed paying taxes, or whether they would like to pay more, they would look at you like you were nuts. but what if we started the conversation the way my colleague described it? what if we asked people about
the barriers standing between them and the bright future they imagined when they decided to build a life here in the commonwealth? when i first got to harrisburg, the answer was almost always the same, schools. far too many parents across our counties felt like the opportunities available to their kids would be determined less by their talent and more by their zip code. no matter how great a parent you are, if your local school system lacks the resources it needs to provide your kids with a quality education, that is a barrier to getting them a better life. it's a barrier so begun actually blocks out the sun. even if you somehow make it over that barrier, now there is another higher mountain to be climbed and that's the skyrocketing cost of higher education. high quality education is the ticket to greater opportunity for our children. without it, how can we hope our
kids will be able to lead better lives than we did? by the way, universal high quality education leads to healthier people and healthier communities. if it's not accessible to everyone, how will our kids be able to build a better pennsylvania than the one we leave them? over the past five years, we've delivered an additional 1.4 billion dollars in funding for pre-k through college education. that's not enough. for too many families in our commonwealth, insufficient access to education remains a barrier to opportunity. it's not the only one. parents worry about the quality of the air their kids breathe and water they drink. they worry about the opioid epidemic ravaging so many communities across our commonwealth, stripping hope away from so many people they know. they worry about the possibility of their one unlucky health emergency
leading to the complete collapse of their lives. they also worry about the economy. they are not worried about the stock market or buying prices. they worry about the economy around them. will there continue to be good jobs? will there still be opportunities to advance and build financial security? will they or kids have a real chance to wind up better off than we are? parents worry. it's what we do. our daughters are grown. now they've built successful lives of their own, but francis and i still worry about them every day. in difficult times like these, too many young parents were haunted by the fear their children's lives will simply never be better than their own there is a real cost that fear. these families are making decisions that will shape their lives all these burdens reduce any chance they might have barriers to opportunity destroy hope. they encourage pessimism. they discourage the kind of
broad ambition that a robust free market economy depends on. these fears, these barriers, diminish all our lives. they destroy the optimism that drives a healthy society. i for one worry about that a lot these days after all, here i am, speaking to you via video instead of before a packed chamber due to a pandemic that's caused more than 17,000 pennsylvanian's their lives, thrown our economy into tumult, and disrupted every part of our lives yes, we will defeat covid, but we cannot say yet when it will be safe for life to return to normal. it's hard to know what normal will even look like. i refused to tell any family in pennsylvania that they just happened to be starting out of the wrong time and with everything going on in 2021, it's just not going to be the year we get around to lifting the barriers that stand between them in the future they hoped to provide for their children.
i think it's more important than ever that we act boldly and courageously to remove those barriers once and for all so today, i'm proposing a budget designed to do exactly that. let's start with taxes. nobody likes paying them. but i think we can all agree that some things can only be accomplished with everybody. chipping in. repairing roads and bridges, keeping communities safe, and of course, giving every child in the commonwealth the education they need to thrive. so the question isn't whether taxes are unpleasant or necessary they are both. the real question is whether everyone pays a fair share, and whether we are all getting our money's worth. the truth is, the answer to both questions is no. right now, pennsylvania has one of the lowest personal income tax rates in the nation. yes, for folks like me who have
been lucky enough to build financial security, that's a pretty sweet deal. but if you are just starting out, that's a different story. for one thing, when you go to file your taxes every year, you pay the same rate i do. those taxes are not giving you nearly enough in return. too many communities across the commonwealth are being left behind, especially when it comes to our schools. so local communities, especially rural towns and struggling cities like scranton, wind up raising property taxes. homeowners and renters a lake wind up paying more. even then, schools leg behind. lead, well in order to keep the personal tax rate low, we charge pennsylvania businesses one of the highest tax rates in the country. even as we under fund schools and job training programs delivering a future workforce. what sense does that make?
so today, i am proposing we do things differently. the first big change, we need to stop asking working families to pay the same tax rate my family does. i want to help working families get ahead by reducing their taxes. this isn't about putting the rich against the poor and middle class. this is about asking folks who have already made it to shoulder a little more of the burden. so that folks who haven't made it yet have a better chance to do that. that's the thing about financial security. most people who have it, had to earn it. and if you are one of those people, think back to the early days when you were just starting out. when you hadn't yet overcome the barriers that stood between you and your success. back when you were we are maxing out your credit card every month. back when you are hoping the old car would make it through one more winter, trying to save up enough for that down payment on home. if you could go back in time and give yourself you, you are younger self, just a little bit
more help, wouldn't you do it? well, that's exactly what i am proposing you do for young families all across the commonwealth. if you are married with two kids and you earn less than 84,000 dollars per year, i suggest we give you a tax cut. second big change. by cutting taxes for pennsylvania businesses by 25%. no longer will we ask the businesses empower our economy to pay the highest rate in nation. not only does my plan help lift that burden, it levels the playing field by closing the loophole that lets committee corporations benefit from doing business in our commonwealth without pairing their fair share. third big change. even with these tax cuts for working families and businesses, my plan more than doubles our investment in education. finally, we will be able to fully and fairly fund every school and every school district and every part of the commonwealth. putting all this funding
through the fair funding formula that means that struggling schools will finally get the resources they need without taking away from schools already being adequately funding. imagine, no more chronic underfunding. no more budget gimmicks shifting round money to hide our shortfalls. no more picking winners and losers. no more last minute one time bailouts for school districts because they can't make ends meet. and more passing on the roster broken system in the form of skyrocketing property taxes. on top of that, my budget has new funding for early childhood education, for special education and for higher education, including funding for a gi bill and a new community college in erie and it creates the each tuition assistance program to help more pennsylvanian's attend the state universities. opening up new opportunities for people to get degrees and other important work for us credentials. our commitment to education is
not just about funding, it's also about quality. my budget includes reforms that would finally hold charter schools accountable for the results to deliver. it lowers administrative costs in the educational improvement tax credit program so that you can fond 36 million dollars more in scholarships. and it gives the teachers to whom we entrust our children's future the security of a 45,000 dollar minimum out annual salary. we can make 2021 a year when we cut taxes for working families. a year when we level the playing field for businesses. a year when we finally end fully and fairly fund every school in the commonwealth so that no parent in pennsylvania, no matter where they live or what they earn, will ever have to worry that their child will be unable to get a world-class public education. well read it, let's do something else for businesses. the covid pandemic has put a heavy burden on pennsylvania
businesses and workers they employ. so for starters, let's move quickly to help struggling businesses weather the storm. we can immediately allocate 145 million dollars to help them make it through the last months of the pandemic. let's do this now. with my budget also makes a strong investment in our workforce and our infrastructure to help our economy coloring back once we return to business as usual. that includes a multi billion dollar investment in our workforce and economic development systems. it's enough to fund recommendations from our bipartisan workforce bipartisan center. and it includes a major investment in our infrastructure. not just roads and bridges, but infrastructure projects ranging from broadband internet and rural communities to getting lead and it's best this out of our school business. and every stage will be knocking down barriers to advancement for workers and businesses alike. i mean a road that's not paved,
that's a barrier. a job with no prospects for advancement, that's a barrier. a classroom poisoned by lead paint, old, especially this, that's a barrier. by the way, a paycheck that doesn't cover basic necessities is a barrier, to. and that's why we should immediately raise the minimum wage with a clear path to getting it to 15 dollars per hour as quickly as possible. there is a lot more in this budget, including number of things that i know have bipartisan support. building on progress and continuing to reform our criminal justice system. improving the professional licensing process to knock down barriers to entering high demand professions. legalizing recreational marijuana and heating senator cornyn's call to make government reform a priority by implementing a wide ranging ethics plan that would make our state government more accountable, more responsible to the people we serve. there is no reason why we can't
work together. democrats and republicans to pass these initiatives. if you are skeptical about the prospects for bipartisanship in the wake of what we've seen, our politics become recently, well, i can say that i blame you. so, i want to close by saying this, i think it's incumbent on every public official, no matter what party you belong to our how much responsibility uber for the events of last month to look for ways to fix our broken politics. after all, as my conversation with my conservative colleague demonstrated, we all come here with the same goal in mind. helping the people we represent build the lives they want for their families. but while a lot of the anger and division in our politics comes from overheated rhetoric and selfish partisanship, i think there's something else going on here too. the people who centers here are frustrated. they keep telling us what they need, they need good schools, they need safe roads, they need more opportunities to advance their careers, start businesses
and build economic security. then we come to harrisburg and all we do is in the it will around the edges of these problems. a little more funding here, a new pilot program there, we do with the politics of the moment allows. and we promised to try again next year. but if you're one of those pennsylvanian's starting out, one of those young families surrounded by all those imposing barriers, that's just not good enough. you know, you only get to go through life ones and every year, we don't act to solve these problems, well that's a year you can never get back. it's another year where it feels like you're only working all those hours so you can write those checks to your landlord. your health insurance company. it's another year where you are paying your taxes right on time but it never seems to be enough money in the states budget to fix that pothole on your way to work. it's another year where your kids get taller. your local schools get better. and college does not get any
more affordable. no wonder people get frustrated. it's no wonder they get angry. and wonder people start to feel like nobody in government cares. it's no wonder they start looking to politicians who promised to shake everything up. so let's stop with the excuses, let's move beyond the chronic community. let's do something. let's lift those barriers and let's start making excuses for why we can't. this budget makes major changes to our tax system. it actually reduces the tax burden on pennsylvanian families earning 84,000 dollars or less. it also proposes a major tax reduction for pennsylvania businesses. still, i know, folks on the other side of the aisle are going to portray to this budget and tell you all the things that it does wrong or all the things they don't like. but you know what's? we're not in a cheaper today. there is no one here to clapper boot or sits stoically and not react at also, i'm not talking to them.
i'm talking to the people of pennsylvania. i'm talking to you. and here's what i'm telling you. i'm telling you that there is a way out of this cycle of disappointment and half measures, frustration and division. i'm telling you, we can lift these barriers once and for all and we can do it this year. i'm telling you we can have a great public school for every child in every neighborhood in pennsylvania and good job opportunities for everyone who wants to -- an economy strong enough to provide for everyone. i'm telling you, it's possible to pursue a legislation of red agenda for this commonwealth that is good for families, good for businesses, good for the economy. and most of all, i'm telling you i think your family's future is important enough that we ought to just have this argument right now instead of putting it off until next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. so, go online, look at my budget, look at what it would mean for your family, for your
community, for our commonwealth and if you agree that your family would be better off on a pennsylvania with fairer taxes and better schools, raise your voice! at the end of the day, we don't work for you, if you've had enough of being told why you are government can solve your problems. make it crystal clear that this time, you don't want to hear that anymore. you won't accept any more excuses. all your representatives, help me get this budget through the legislature. let's make pennsylvania and even better place to live, to work and dream big dreams for your kids and for our future. thank you. >> weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight, a conversation between benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson has portrayed by bill rogue lynn and bill darker. they talk about the rules in achieving revolutionary war era america