Schember, Dahlkemper meet with Gov. Wolf following budget address
Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper met with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf following the governor's budget address in Harrisburg Tuesday, according to Aaron Loncki, Schember's communication coordinator.
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper met with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf following the governor's budget address in Harrisburg Tuesday, according to Aaron Loncki, Schember's communication coordinator.
The details of the meeting are scarce. But both Erie Democrats agree, Wolf's plan to impose a severance tax on natural gas drillers will benefit all Pennsylvanians. It's unclear how much of a tax Wolf is proposing, but he proposed a 3.5 percent tax during a stop in Erie in October 2017. That proposal would've netted around $120 million.
"It really spreads the tax burden over the entire country, not just the people of Erie or the people of Pennsylvania, even," Schember said by phone from Harrisburg Tuesday afternoon.
"I believe it's appropriate for the citizens of this community, but whether or not (lawmakers) will agree to that is questionable," Dahlkemper added during a joint telephone interview with Schember.
It's the fourth-straight year Wolf has proposed the tax; and each time, the Republican-controlled state legislature has shot it down.
But another proposal both Schember and Dahlkemper feel will help Erie is expanded education funding. The budget includes the $14 million in additional recurring state aid for Erie's Public Schools. That's a total of $15 million in overall funding this year after the district's $1 million in basic education funding is included. Wolf is also proposing $50 million statewide for career and technical education, including $40 million for what he calls a "first-of-its-kind" STEM education plan called "PA Smart" initiative.
"Education and work force development were two strong things and those are two key areas for our region," Dahlkemper said.
Wolf is also proposing a minimum wage increase to $12-an-hour, up from $7.25, one of the lowest in the nation. Dahlkemper says the raise is long overdue. But Schember, a former PNC Bank executive, isn't sold.
"When the minimum wage goes up, inflation tends to go up as well," Schember said. "We've had relatively constrained inflation for the last many years. Inflation is a problem for everybody when that happens."
Those proposals, among others -- including Wolf's attempt to revisit a fee implemented on municipalities using Pa. State Police as its sole law enforcement entity, which was rejected in 2017 -- could face an uphill fight as the governor and much of the General Assembly are up for re-election this year.