Every governor needs an agenda to identify the specific priorities that they intend to pursue in the coming year. While Governor Wolf has presented his agenda for 2021, I would like to take this opportunity to present "The Soloski Agenda”. This will be my plan of action for my administration in my first year in office and beyond.
I’m going to present my agenda and contrast it with that of Governor Wolf’s.
Getting Pennsylvania Back on Track After the Pandemic
On my first day in office, I will lift any remaining lockdown orders imposed by the former governor. Pennsylvania will be back open for business. No lockdowns, no restrictions, no fear. I believe that the residents of Pennsylvania are best equipped to make their own choices, not government edicts that restrict them.
Governor Wolf says that he wants to “double down on his commitment to make Pennsylvania the best place to live, work, and do business.” Really? How disingenuous. Governor Wolf’s lockdowns have caused thousands of businesses to close their doors forever. This has put undue strain on marriages, families, and relationships. Is that the way to improve Pennsylvania to be “the best place to live, work, and do business?” I don’t think so.
Protect the Workers’ Compensation Fund
I will not allow the reserves in the Workers’ Compensation Fund to be stolen, regardless of how the governor and the legislature want to do that. Remember when they did that same thing to the State Employees Retirement Funds? Those funds had a $7 billion surplus and our legislature stole those funds and put the Retirement Funds into a more-than $50 billion dollar deficit.
Do I think that Governor Wolf’s new plan would do the same thing to the Workers’ Compensation Fund? You bet I do. Count me as a complete skeptic regarding any new plan put forth by Governor Wolf and our legislature to feign “assistance” to you while ransacking healthy state funds.
If Governor Wolf and our legislature want to allocate $145 million to Pennsylvania businesses, there is only one honest way to do it: cut government spending and then cut business taxation!
Cut Government Spending and Slash Taxation
My goal is to cut the massive, overspending by our government in every year that I’m in office. Our current budget is $36 billion and that includes a more than $2 billion deficit! Think about that: the Commonwealth is spending more than $2 billion more than it’s taking in. That’s lousy fiscal management.
Governor Wolf wants a “multi-billion-dollar injection” of funds into the workforce development system. But I ask you: where are they going to get the ”multi billions” of dollars? They are already in the hole by more than $2 billion now!
The only way to accomplish such a task is to slash government spending.
Hold the Line on the Minimum Wage
The Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. That’s a reasonable wage for entry-level work for teenagers or for the adult who wants a second job to complement their primary work. When government artificially imposes, and then increases, a minimum wage, all other costs go up; rents, wages, prices for goods, etc. Most Pennsylvania employers already pay more than the minimum wage because they want the best workers and they also want to treat their employees fairly.
Governor Wolf wants to put Pennsylvania on a track for a $15 minimum wage. This will only kill jobs here in Pennsylvania. In the end, only state government stands the chance to be a winner through increased tax revenues. Some things never change when it comes to the Republicans and Democrats.
A Soloski Administration will not artificially impose wage thresholds. I’m for people and employers making their own decisions.
Eliminate Professional Licensing Fees
Currently, Pennsylvania government extorts fees from certain profession just to allow people to work here. It’s an insidious practice. A person can get specialized training to go into a certain type of job, but they have to pay a licensing fee to the Commonwealth to work here, otherwise they risk fines and litigation. I would move to end ALL professional licensing fees.
Governor Wolf, to his credit, has accomplished eliminating a few licensing fees. But it’s not enough. All professional licensing fees need to be eliminated. The State should not have the ability to seize your right to work, just to sell it back to you.
Reduce the Corporate Net Income Tax
I want to see Pennsylvania become a tax haven. States like Texas, Tennessee, and Florida don’t have the heavy taxes that Pennsylvania has, so businesses flock to those states for the favorable tax treatment. I would like to see the Corporate Net Income Tax completely eliminated.
It’s sad that Governor Wolf wants to reduce the Corporate Net Income Tax by 0.5%, only now, in his sixth year in office. And while he is suggesting reducing it even further (by another 3 percent after he leaves office), it’s too little, too late. I have to ask, “What took so long, Governor Wolf? You could have been advocating for tax cuts six years ago.”
And, Governor Wolf is suggesting cutting the corporate tax simultaneously with increasing your Personal Income Tax by almost 50%. Pretty disingenuous, if you were to ask me.
Legalize Recreational Cannabis
The Soloski Agenda would move for full legalization and full de-criminalization of the recreational use and possession of cannabis. It’s a plant, folks. It doesn’t have any addictive qualities. It can be used to reduce chronic pain for a lot of people. It should have never been prohibited. I also don’t think that cannabis should be regulated or specially taxed by the state. You should be able to grow it in your own window boxes, if you want to. Again, it’s a plant. As former New York gubernatorial candidate, Larry Sharpe, is known for saying, “Marijuana should be regulated like onions”. In other words, it shouldn’t be regulated.
Governor Wolf’s plan for legalizing marijuana has only one purpose: to tax YOU more. He has clearly said that he wants a new tax revenue stream from marijuana to help support small businesses.
I am a complete skeptic on that approach. We all remember how the revenues raised from the new gambling industry were to go towards property tax relief, and possibly even elimination, for Pennsylvania residents. How did that work out for you? Governor Wolf’s plan will be the same sham.
Demand Term Limits for Legislators to Reform State Government
I am advocating for term limits for all state legislators. Specifically, I would like to see a cap of no more than eight years for elected officials. Nothing would be more effective in reducing corruption than term limits. Remember, your elected representatives are servants, not experts. They are meant to serve you well and then move on with their lives.
Governor Wolf’s “comprehensive plan” for accountability in Harrisburg has no teeth and does little more than highlight his gift ban. Governor Wolf does not find term limits to be a priority.
Here are some additional items in "The Soloski Agenda" that Governor Wolf does not include in his agenda:
Reduce the Emergency Powers of the Governor
I have no desire to impose dictatorial edicts over the residents of Pennsylvania. As I have been saying for months, I will be pursuing the state legislature to put a bill on my desk to greatly curtail the Governor’s emergency powers. Thankfully, the legislature has proposed a ballot referendum that parallels my wishes: to limit the governor’s emergency powers to just 21 days. If I, or any other subsequent governor, would want to extend any emergency measures beyond that point, then legislative concurrence would be required.
Eliminate the Personal Income Tax
As I have said in the past, I want to see Pennsylvania become a tax haven. One that will attract businesses and make us competitive with other pro-business states like Tennessee, Florida, and Texas. While Governor Wolf wants to increase the Personal Income Tax by almost 50%, I want to see it eliminated. That will attract businesses and jobs to Pennsylvania. Pro-business states don’t have income taxes.
I am pro-energy. That means that I’m pro-natural gas, pro-nuclear, pro-oil, and pro-coal. These wonderful natural resources, which we have in abundance, should continue to be safely utilized in the free market to provide the residents of Pennsylvania with the energy that they need and sometimes even take for granted.
While I am also pro-renewables, the emerging disposal problems with solar array equipment and commercial windmills blades, cause me to pause before putting too much emphasis on those technologies. Renewables provide less than 5% of our total energy consumption. To toss away proven energy sources for the “fashionable-for-the-day” renewable varieties would prove to be reckless and cause unwanted energy shortages and high prices.
No Fracking or Severance Fees
The natural gas fracking industry has brought new and high-paying jobs to Pennsylvania. Imposing severance fees would only scare those industries away to more business-friendly locations.
Sell the State Alcohol Store System
Pennsylvania controls the wholesale distribution and retail sales of spirits. This is a private sector activity that Pennsylvania has monopolized for itself since the 1930s. Former Governor Corbett made it a priority, and attempted more than once, to sell-off the State Store system. It was unfortunate that his own Republican-controlled legislature didn’t seize that opportunity to make it happen.
It’s time that Pennsylvania enters the 21st Century on this issue. Most states do not monopolize the sale of liquor. Pennsylvania should follow their lead.
Cut State Spending by 5% per year
Pennsylvania’s budget has grown from $20 billion in 2002 to over $36 billion in 2021. That’s a more than 75% increase in less than 20 years! Pennsylvania doesn’t have a revenue problem; it’s got a spending problem! Our state legislature needs to follow my lead and move to cut Pennsylvania’s budget every year that I’m in office.
Cut the Salaries of the Governor and the State Legislators
Pennsylvania has the highest-paid governor in the United States. Did you know that? Your governor has a salary of over $190,000! Notice that I said “has a salary”; I don’t think that he’s ‘earning’ that salary. Governor Wolf’s unconstitutional lockdown measures certainly prove that.
One my first day in office, I will voluntarily cut my salary by 60%, to $76,000 per year. $76,000 is plenty for the work that you will have elected me to do. I believe in leading from the top, and I want to set the example for our state legislators and all state departments.
Your elected state legislators each have salaries in excess of $90,000 each. Legislative leadership positions are significantly more than that. I will be asking them to halt all cost of living increases and also take significant pay cuts.
Eliminating the Inheritance Tax
I find it immoral that dying in Pennsylvania gives rise to a taxable event. You’ve been paying state income taxes on your earnings every year, and you pay sales taxes on most things you buy every time you make a purchase. Again, I believe it to be immoral that Pennsylvania insists on taxing you “one more time” when you die.
A person should be able to leave their assets to the heirs and charities of their choice. Accordingly, I will be working to have the insidious Inheritance Tax eliminated every day.
Elimination of Property Taxes
Our system of property taxation is the most regressive, archaic, and inequitable of any in Pennsylvania. I have seen too many people lose their homes, that they have worked all their lives for, just because it became impossible for them to meet the property tax requirements on their homes. This is an unconscionable practice and it has to end.
As an initial reform, I would support allowing individual counties to impose an increased sales tax to fund their county and municipal needs. With local spending cuts, those increases can be kept to a minimum.
Education Reform; expanding choices for Pennsylvania Residents
Effective education reform will best be accomplished with property tax elimination. I would support allowing counties to impose an increased sales tax to fund local education.
More importantly, I would advocate for parents and students to have more education choices. Vouchers work. Allowing parents to choose the schools of their choice for their children will go a long way to making education more competitive and of a higher quality. Home schooling, charter schools, cyber schooling, and other options, all need to be at the individual’s disposal. Individual education funding should be at the discretion of the individual, not a collective matter as it has been for decades.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The Pennsylvania Constitution states that “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be questioned.”
“Shall not be infringed” and “shall not be questioned.” That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? I feel that anyone believing otherwise is simply suspending disbelief. You have the inherent right to defend your own life and the lives of your family and all members of our society.
I believe that you should be able to own the firearms of your choice without the need for licensing. Firearms usage education is a very good thing and I recommend that every firearm user obtains proper training and keeps their skills sharp.
However, I am against government firearm databases and all other restrictive government measures.
The Soloski Agenda is an ambitious one. While it may not be the easy way to govern, I believe that doing things the same way that they have been for decades cannot work. We need bold and daring new initiatives to correct the fiscal mismanagement that has plagued Pennsylvania.
Join me in setting a new course for Pennsylvania.