Governor Wolf revealed his $32.3 billion dollar spending plan for 2017-2018. His address contained the following key components:
- A swath of ideas to improve government efficiency—closing a state prison, two state facilities that provide mental health services, merging four agencies into one, offering early retirement to some state employees, and selling or leasing some state facilities and land.
- No broad based taxes, but there are some tax proposals:
- Assessing sales tax on custom programming, design and data processing, commercial storage, aircraft sales, use and repair and on food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased by airlines to be served to passengers.
- Severance tax on natural gas.
- Further eliminate the “Delaware Loophole.”
- An increase in the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $12/hour, effective July 1, 2017.
- A modest, for him, $100 million dollar increase in basic education funding.
- Eliminating almost all tax credits and consolidating them into one large block program that entities would have to apply for.
- Requiring municipalities that use the state police for their local policing to remit a $25/resident fee.
The Governor also eliminated all non-recurring projects and proposed $10.1 million for statewide promotion of tourism. This is a significant increase from the $3.9 million the tourism office received in the 2016-2017 budget.
Statewide Tourism Promotion
The PRLA Lodging & Tourism Committee took a motion to support a statewide funding model that would capture sales tax revenue related to tourism, allow for inflation and dedicate revenue over inflation to the statewide tourism office. PRLA will be moving forward in determining which Pennsylvania sales tax codes are connected to tourism, which percentage of that revenue is derived from tourism, and how much that could potentially bring to the tourism line item. Stay tuned for more information on these efforts in the coming weeks.
Mandated paid leave preemption
The Senate Local Government Committee voted Senate Bill (SB) 128 (Eichelberger—R, Blair) out of committee with a vote of 8-4. The legislation, very simply, states that it is not the role of Pennsylvania’s 2,500 municipalities to mandate paid leave on businesses in the Commonwealth and that it should be a state discussion and decision. The legislation was amended in committee to declare the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh paid leave mandates illegal.
PLCB opens second dead license auction
The PLCB issued an invitation to bid for 50 expired Restaurant licenses in 48 counties. The minimum bid for each license is $25,000 and bids are due by noon on Friday, March 3. The winners will be announced the week of March 6. Licenses are available in the following counties:
- One license in each of these 46 counties: Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Dauphin, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Venango, Warren, Wayne, Wyoming, and York counties.
- Two licenses in each Philadelphia and Allegheny counties.
Mandatory RAMP training
As a reminder, any alcohol service personnel that a licensee hired after August 8, 2016, must complete RAMP training within 6 months.