$40 Million Added Friday

HARRISBURG, June 24, 2011 – Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) today announced state tax receipts for June 23 added $40 million to the budget surplus, getting Pennsylvania closer to a $700 million surplus for the state budget.

“At this rate, we will clearly make the $700 million number by June 30th. How this state can agree to a budget that lays off 11,000 teachers and raises local property taxes in over 75 percent of Pennsylvania school districts, while carrying this kind of surplus is beyond reason,” said Hughes. “This is draconian, and almost appears that a fiscal crisis is being manufactured.

“As my Senate Democratic colleagues and I have been saying for months now, we have resources available to soften the blow of the deep and unreasonable budget cuts that the governor has suggested,” said Hughes, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Despite the burgeoning revenue surplus, the governor has refused to use these surplus funds to fill in funding gaps and relieve pain.

“We could stop large local property tax increases and prevent more than ten thousand teacher layoffs — in addition to plugging holes the governor wants to create in the social safety-net — if we used a portion of the revenue surplus,” he said.
Approximately 12,000 teachers will be furloughed and 75 percent of school districts across the state will likely increase property taxes if the Republican budget plan is enacted, Hughes said.

While the governor and legislators must be responsible and prudent when using the surplus, it is inappropriate and unfair to the people of Pennsylvania to put massive amounts of the surplus into reserve, the West Philadelphia lawmaker said.

To convey the magnitude of the revenue surplus, Hughes pointed out that each property taxpayer could be given a rebate check of $300 if the surplus were divided among all Pennsylvania homeowners.