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Senate Democrats Unveil Their Budget Priorities
Key investments and cost-savings measures could provide over $1 billion in relief to Pennsylvania.
Today I joined with my Senate Democratic colleagues to unveil our 2012-13 budget priorities. Our plan calls for more than $1 billion in new investments to help create jobs, fund education and repair the social safety net, all without tax increases.
The Corbett administration is using “fuzzy math” to manufacture a crisis that doesn’t have to be. They have said that there will be a revenue shortfall of more than $700 million. The Independent Fiscal Office says the shortfall will be less than $500 million. Based on the current trends, we believe the true number will be significantly lower than both of these figures.
We don’t have to make the false choices they want us to make – putting students against seniors – because this administration is playing fast and loose with the numbers to intentionally achieve a goal. Last year’s budget undercounted revenues by ten-fold. This year’s budget proposal attempts to do the same. We must rid ourselves of these false choices by counting our resources correctly.
Pennsylvania’s working families are feeling the brunt of this year’s budget cuts. The sound budget plan we offered today will help these families meet fiscal challenges while moving Pennsylvania into the future.
The governor and his administration have proved time and time again – through harsh, misguided policies - that they are not on the side of Pennsylvania’s working families. It’s not fair and it is time for a change. The Senate Democrats have the plan to fuel that change.
Last year, Senate Democrats were left out of budget negotiations. The result of those negotiations was a plan filled with harsh cuts, no plan for job growth, tuition increases, local property tax increases, costly burdens to local governments and pain across the board. This year, it is imperative that we are at the negotiating table.
Our plan is the clear choice to put Pennsylvania citizens first with smart investments, restorations, efficiencies and found-revenue. The plan includes:
- Currently Pennsylvania is lagging behind national average and surrounding states for job growth. In one year we have gone from 7th to 34th for job growth. The Senate Democrats plan would target investments, such as infrastructure to generate $225 million in new job-related investments.
Investing in Education
- The Senate Democrats are aiming for a full restoration of $383 million for basic and higher education. Last year, when we were left out of the budget process, Pennsylvania was hit with tuition increases, massive layoffs and job loss, as well as property tax increases. This plan invests in education to help spur job growth and secure our future and that of our children.
Protecting the Social Safety Net
- The governor has gone into attack mode when it comes to the resources that vulnerable Pennsylvanians depend upon. The Senate Democrats’ plan would provide more than $400 million for human services, women and children, and hospitals. This includes restoring Adultbasic and using federal settlement funds to reestablish HEMAP.
No New Taxes
- Our plan ensures that the numbers are counted correctly. There is no “fuzzy math” in our plan so we don’t have to make false choices for the people of Pennsylvania. Our plan would also slow down the Capital Stock and Franchise phase out and address the Delaware loophole to get us out of crisis budgeting mode for a stable budget future.
Senate Democrats Participation
- Senate Democrats were bullied out of the budget process last year, resulting in pain across the board. We represent approximately 5 million people in Pennsylvania, we must be a part of budget discussions this year.
Other priorities include:
- $100 million for property tax relief
- $40 million for criminal justice reform
- $25 million in business tax assistance
- $25 million in veterans assistance
This plan will be funded by better, innovative deployment of state resources, achieved through efficiency, rebalancing, reform, federal funds and business tax fairness.
It is my sincerest hope that the Republican leadership provides Senate Democrats the opportunity to really have a presence at this year’s budget negotiations. It is the only way we will craft a budget for ALL Pennsylvanians, not to just big businesses.
Senate Democrats are more than willing and prepared to work with our Republican colleagues for a fair and balanced spending plan that puts the people back to work, fosters education and moves Pennsylvania forward.
You can find out more specifics about the 2012-13 State Budget and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes