Contact Information 
District Offices
315 East Market Street
Suite 100
Clearfield, PA 16830

(814) 765-0609

Fax: (814) 765-0592


264 Haida Avenue
Suite A1
Hastings, PA 16646.
Phone (814) 247-6210
Fax (814) 247-6212

Satellite Office 
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
600 Lingle Street, Suite 100
Osceola Mills, PA 16666
Phone: (814) 339-6544
Fax: (814) 339-6546

Capitol Office
115 Ryan Office Bldg.
PO Box 202073
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2073
Phone: (717) 787-7099
Fax: (717) 782-2922
A Taxing Proposal
4/1/2015
By State Rep. Tommy Sankey

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address to the General Assembly is nearly one month old and I’ve heard a number of opinions since it was offered. The most important thing you can take from the address is it being a starting point to a long, arduous process. A great deal will happen between now and the eventual signing into law of a budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

It is also important to note our governor cannot initiate legislation. Bills must originate from either the House or the Senate. With Republicans holding significant majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, I find it hard to believe legislation that attempts to move his wishes into law exactly as they have been proposed will even be advanced out of committee. I also have a hard time believing there would be sufficient support from Democrats, were the governor’s spending plan to be put up for a vote in the House or Senate chamber.

Writing off Wolf’s entire proposal before seeing every detail is not the way I like to do business. The recently completed House Appropriations Committee did reveal a number of those details and what I’m seeing is generally not the direction I think Pennsylvania needs to take. There are, however, some people who view the governor’s proposed course of action as the right one to pursue. I’d like to take some time to voice my concerns.

I do applaud Wolf for starting a serious conversation on property tax relief, but I have questions about how he wants to address the problem. The answer to school property tax relief lies in part in a tax shift, pure and simple. If we do away with or reduce property taxes, which are one of the means by which we fund our schools, we must replace that source of revenue with another. In other words, every dollar of increase taxes must reduce property taxes by one dollar. The Wolf plan is essentially a 2-for-1 deal that shortchanges the Pennsylvania taxpayer. It also does not completely eliminate property taxes or include necessary caps that would keep property taxes from rising back up.

From a business perspective, I wholeheartedly endorse the governor’s desire to lower the Corporate Net Income tax. Doing so would sound a more business-friendly tone, something of which we as a state need to do more. That being said, I’m not sure imposing a natural gas severance tax is conducive to good business practice.

Wolf wants the revenue from the severance tax to be directed to our schools. I have an easier solution if he feels school funding is insufficient. Reform the pension system and switch future employees to a defined contribution system, so the dollars that are already designated for schools but get tied up in the current system can be used for actual education purposes.

The existing Act 13 impact fee imposed on drillers reimburses municipalities and counties where drilling is taking place, and can be used for environmental, public safety, road and bridge repairs and emergency services. Impact fees disappear if a severance tax is enacted, as will some of the drilling activity. The result will be less money going to local governments, as well as higher energy prices and a loss of jobs.

Speaking of our labor picture, job creation, I believe, occurs when we lower taxes in order to create a more favorable business climate. Wolf’s solutions to our economic woes involve increased spending and raising the sales and Personal Income taxes. If you would like to find out how those tax changes affect residents of individual school districts, please visit my website, RepSankey.com, and click on the box marked “TaxpayersThatPay.” You will be able to find out how much in new taxes the residents of every school district will pay under Wolf’s proposed tax increases and how much property tax and rent relief funds would go back to the school district’s taxpayers.

I will tell you four of the 11 school districts in the 73rd Legislative District would benefit. Statewide, more than 400 of our 500 school districts are not so fortunate.

Nearly three months remain in this fiscal year. Revenue numbers have been improving, which is a testament to the previous administration’s strict fiscal policies. To me, the answer continues to be smaller government which focuses less on the taxpayer’s wallet and more on funding the core functions of government. I ran for office on those beliefs and stand by them.

Questions about this or any legislative issue should be directed to my Clearfield office at (814) 765-0609, my Hastings office at (814) 247-6210 or my Osceola Mills office at (814) 339-6544.
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