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Governor Looks To Expand Sales Tax To Boost Funding For Education

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- They are things you buy all the time - from non-prescription drugs to candy to concert tickets and haircuts - and they are all tax-free in Pennsylvania. That is, at least for now.

Gov. Tom Wolf wants to expand the sales tax to include 45 categories of products or services that are currently exempt. This is to boost funding for Pre-K programs and public schools by $2 billion.

The governor was in Western Pennsylvania promoting his plan on Wednesday.

After being serenaded by the students at the George Washington Intermediate Elementary School in New Castle, Gov. Wolf continued his quest for more education funding.

"All I'm trying to do is send that message to the legislature; I need your help to do that," he said.

The upside of the governor's tax plan is it would cut the corporate income taxes and provide property tax relief for homeowners. The downside is it would increase income taxes and taxes on goods and services.

On Wednesday, his office released specifics.

The statewide sales tax would increase from six percent to 6.6 percent, and would include items that were previously exempted. Those include things like candy and gum, newspapers and magazines, textbooks and personal hygiene products.

Previously exempted services which would be taxed include - transportation, higher education, entertainment, home health care and financial investment services.

The proposal has met with a lukewarm response by the Republican-controlled House and Senate, but at George Washington Intermediate Elementary School, they say the boost to education is needed.

"We've eliminated 26 teaching positions in the last four year and have three positions unfilled. Our class size has increased by an average of three," said New Castle Area School District Superintendent John Sarandrea.

Gov. Wolf's tax plan will be a tough sell in Harrisburg and with Pennsylvania consumers, but the governor says it's for the kids.

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