HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor said Wednesday he is suspicious about revenue numbers in the budget passed by Republican majorities in the Legislature that now awaits action by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Tom Wolf told The Associated Press that he believes the budget was built on "smoke and mirrors" and dubious assumptions about how much money the state will collect in the coming year, including $95 million from leases for natural gas drilling under state parks and forests.
Republicans are also projecting a rosy 3.5 percent increase in revenue collection in the new fiscal year. The just-ended fiscal year's tax collections were slightly below the previous year's.
"I think it's more than just one-time transfers," said Wolf, who served for about a year and a half as state revenue secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell. "I think there is some game playing going on here."
Corbett, a Republican, has not indicated whether he will sign the $29.1 billion budget that was approved on nearly party lines in both chambers.
Wolf said he would balance the budget by imposing a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling, expanding Medicaid under the 2010 federal health care law and closing tax loopholes.
"I think those three things would take us a very, very long way with bridging this immediate budget gap that we have right now," Wolf said.
He predicted that if Corbett signs the budget it will serve to increase next year's deficit, but stopped short of saying he should veto it.
"I would not presume to instruct the governor, but this is a budget that I think is a logical consequence of the failed leadership and failed policies that he's promoted for the past four years," Wolf said.
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