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Wolf asks lawmakers to approve billions in higher taxes for school aid boost, tax overhaul

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Gov. Tom Wolf is asking Pennsylvania lawmakers to approve $4 billion in higher taxes and new taxes to help boost school aid and shift education funding away from local property taxes.

In an address to a joint session of the Legislature Tuesday morning, the new governor is proposing raising the sales tax for the first time in nearly 50 years, to 6.6 percent from the current 6 percent.

PHOTO: File- This Jan. 20, 2015, file photo shows Gov. Tom Wolf speaks after he took the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Pennsylvania, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Wolf’s first budget proposal to the Legislature will be ambitious, supporters say, in its efforts to provide new funding to education and to help local taxpayers shoulder the burden of paying for public schools. Wolf is due to deliver his budget and an address to a joint session of the Legislature before noon Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File- This Jan. 20, 2015, file photo shows Gov. Tom Wolf speaks after he took the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Pennsylvania, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Wolf’s first budget proposal to the Legislature will be ambitious, supporters say, in its efforts to provide new funding to education and to help local taxpayers shoulder the burden of paying for public schools. Wolf is due to deliver his budget and an address to a joint session of the Legislature before noon Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Overall, the Democrat wants to increase state spending from $29 billion to $33.7 billion — an increase of 16 percent.

The governor says the proposed tax hikes and a simultaneous cut in property taxes would reduce the tax burden on the average middle-class homeowner by 13 percent.

Wolf says his plan draws from both Democratic and Republican party ideas. Above all, he says, it recognizes that Pennsylvania will not improve until we rebuild the middle class."

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