The group who authored Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett’s “no tax increases” pledge says his proposal to hike employee contributions to Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation fund would count as a tax hike.
However, that group says Corbett could increase the levy, and stay within the bounds of his pledge.
.08 percent of Pennsylvania workers’ salaries currently go into the unemployment compensation fund, which is billions of dollars in debt to the federal government. Pennsylvania is one of just three states to tax employees to pay for unemployment compensation.
Corbett says he’d consider increasing the amount, and argues the bump wouldn’t count against his “no new taxes” pledge, since it’s a contribution, rather than a tax.
Patrick Gleason, the director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform, who authored the pledge, says “not so fast.”
"That would definitely fall into the category of a payroll tax increase. I know some in the state refer to it as a contribution – even the state does – so it’s a little confusing. But it is a payroll tax. Raising that would be a tax increase."
But Gleason says the pledge is about the state’s net tax structure so Corbett could stay within its boundaries by reducing other levies, like the sales or income tax.
The next governor will likely face a multi-billion dollar deficit, leading many Capitol observers and lawmakers wondering how Corbett or Democrat Dan Onorato could balance the budget without new taxes.