News & Brews February 3, 2021

Gov. Wolf to propose massive tax hike

Gov. Wolf’s pre-recorded budget address will officially be given today, but details have already emerged, most notably an attempt to raise the personal income tax for the first time in nearly 20 years. Yes, as families and small business owners struggle to begin what will be a years-long recovery effort, Gov. Wolf is pitching a tax hike, more education spending (despite the fact that many schools shut students out the majority of the year), and, of course, a severance tax. The Center Square has more details. The spokesman for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff hit the nail on the head: “Proposing middle class tax increases in the middle of [a] pandemic shows how out of touch Gov. Wolf is and how he isn’t taking Pennsylvania’s return to normal seriously. It’s good the Governor is presenting his budget by video or he would be laughed out of the Capitol.”

Gov. Wolf’s office hiding info on hundreds of phone calls

A Right to Know request for Gov. Wolf’s phone records during the height of the pandemic was met with little detail and lots of excuses. “That information [Gov. Wolf’s phone records] is supposed to be public for a reason—voters have a right to know who has a hand in shaping public policy, and who has our governor’s ear,” the president of the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition told the Delaware Valley Journal. “Such knowledge helps protect against conflicts of interest and can reveal when some groups are being left out of discussions.” The Delaware Valley Journal continues its in-depth look into Gov. Wolf’s problems with transparency during the COVID pandemic here.

Note to govt officials: Stop trying to make color-coded maps happen

In case you forgot the debacle that was Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine’s color-coded county reopening process, government officials tried—and failed—with another color-coded COVID map, this one for vaccination sites. PennLive reports the vaccination site map rolled out by the Department of Health caused confusion and frustration by noting in green and red site locations where the vaccine was (and was not) supplied. Locations noted in green often had no vaccines available for the public, causing the department to revise the map to all blue dots. Maybe—and hear me out on this—the state tries one pandemic-related rollout that isn’t color-coded and sees how that goes?

Sign up to get News & Brews in your inbox