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Lawmakers support no-tax-hike budget

No new taxes are expected to be included in the state budget and that’s just fine with local lawmakers.

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said Wednesday he felt the spending plan would be passed this week.

“We are not going to need to raise taxes so that makes it easier for many,” he said.

Everett, who decided not to seek re-election to the 84th state House seat he has occupied for the past 12 years, said most lawmakers seemed eager to get the spending plan in place for funding state government.

“While it may not meet the full expectations of the governor, I think he may go along with it,” he said.

A budget shortfall, which falls somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion, can likely be filled with unspent CARES Act funding and dollars from special funds, according to Everett.

He expects no drastic funding cuts.

Lawmakers passed a five-month budget plan in June with the condition that an additional spending plan be approved by Nov. 30 to fund government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

State Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, said it’s no time for government to go on a spending spree.

“I fully support a flat-fund budget and pray the revenues will continue to come in between now and June, but no new tax increases. That is the last thing to do,” he said.

Wheeland said unemployment has decreased dramatically since June, COVID-19 continues to pose challenges for state government.

“I just think everyone has to tighten their belts,” he said.

Joe Hamm, who is taking over Everett’s legislative seat, said the new budget should not include tax increases, borrowing, or “short term gimmicks or transfers.”

“Harrisburg has to end their tax and spend mentality,” he said. “I believe they need to cut unnecessary spending and we can make cuts on almost every line-item in the budget. There is fraud and waste that needs to be rooted out and cleaned up and Harrisburg needs to balance their budget just like hardworking Pennsylvanians do. We need to stretch every dollar we have.”

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, could not be reached for comment for this story.

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