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The Flaws and Failures of Governor Tom Wolf’s 8 Years | News, Sports, Work

 

Over the past few weeks, publications across the Commonwealth have opted to look through rose-tinted glasses at the last eight years of Governor Tom Wolf’s tenure in Pennsylvania.

Most Pennsylvanians outside the Harrisburg Bubble remember him differently.

Let’s start with Wolff’s handling of the budget. He likes to take credit for the current budget surplus. What he doesn’t reveal is that all annual budgets are approved by the General Assembly. Republicans backed Wolff’s budget proposals, which would have resulted in overbudgets and higher taxes. For example, he called for a 6% increase in spending in 2020. In his last proposed budget, he wanted to increase spending by 10.9%. This would result in a $1.3 billion deficit in fiscal year 2023–24 and a $13 billion deficit by 2026–27. The Pennsylvania fiscal house is in order because of the prudent management of taxpayer dollars in the General Assembly.

Wolf did his best to suppress economic growth and job growth. During his tenure, he proposed 14 tax increases, including a $4.6 billion tax increase in his first budget address. He used unelected bureaucrats to create costly regulations for businesses, entrepreneurs and non-public schools.

Wolf went to great lengths to stifle one of Pennsylvania’s most promising paths to economic prosperity—energy production. One of his first acts was a mortar for drilling state-owned lands. Nearly every one of his budget proposals included a tax on gas companies. Fortunately, the General Assembly prevented them.

Wolf’s parting gift to the people of Pennsylvania was his unilateral decision to join the Commonwealth under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This northeast version of the Paris Climate Agreement will cost Pennsylvanians an estimated $461 million a year and quadruple their energy bills. The RGGI is expected to lead to skyrocketing energy prices, plant closures and massive job cuts.

With the ongoing war in Ukraine, Pennsylvania could become a major exporter of natural gas. Instead, Wolf’s war against Pennsylvania’s power industry averted the proposed investment. Imagine how strong our economy would be if there was growth in our energy sector.

However, Wolf’s most devastating legacy was how he handled the COVID-19 pandemic. He has exercised unprecedented power during the crisis to shut down small businesses, announce essential and non-essential jobs, close schools, impose unilateral restrictions on trade, keep people in their homes, expend public resources without people’s approval, and restrict freedoms themselves. we value.

The governor’s measures widened the gap between the haves and have-nots in our state. Large corporations were never forced to close, instead they profited from the closure of their competitors. Wealthier parents could send their children to private schools or hire tutors. Under Wolff, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

Meanwhile, we still see a lot of empty storefronts in our communities that used to be home to small businesses. Students from low-income families, especially those without the means to pay for high-speed Internet access, have lagged behind their peers in the world of virtual classrooms.

On March 18, 2020, the Wolf administration issued the now-famous directive to long-term care facilities to admit COVID-positive patients upon discharge from hospitals. The ensuing consequences of the March 18 directive were both predictable and tragic. This has subjected the most vulnerable inhabitants of our Commonwealth to serious illness and death. By May, cases of the virus in nursing homes had spread like wildfire. Approximately two-thirds of COVID deaths then were residents of long-term care facilities. In several counties, 100% of all COVID deaths at the time were at these very facilities.

Across the country, we have seen examples of other governors who have taken a different path in the fight against the pandemic. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has followed the science, protecting those in nursing homes and prioritizing the vulnerable for care and distribution of personal protective equipment. He reopened businesses and schools long before Pennsylvania. In September 2020, he lifted all capacity limits for small businesses and required all school districts to offer classroom instruction.

Output in Florida fell only about 3% in 2020 and 4.4% in Pennsylvania. The current unemployment rate in Florida is 2.6% compared to 4% in Pennsylvania.

In May 2021, Pennsylvanians are fed up and voted to limit the governor’s power to declare a state of emergency. Never again will the Governor have the unilateral authority to issue decrees without the General Assembly. Power has rightfully been returned to the people and their representatives in the General Assembly.

Wolf’s record 60 vetoes in his eight years were emblematic of his refusal to work with others. Among those vetoes are common-sense bills that limit parole for violent criminals, ban discrimination against the unvaccinated, increase transparency in the school curriculum, and expand scholarship programs for poor families to avoid failing schools. He even vetoed legislation that would protect women’s rights not to be oppressed by male patriarchal dominance in sports.

The new administration may take a different path. Will Governor Josh Shapiro work with the General Assembly or will he act unilaterally? Time will show.

State Senator Doug Mastriano, R-Fayetteville, was the Republican nominee for governor in 2022.

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