HARRISBURG, Dec. 20 – Democratic leaders from the state House and Senate joined together today to urge Governor Tom Corbett and leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature to end their extreme ideological crusade and to begin leading on the issues that matter to working, middle-class families.
As Pennsylvania’s economy continues to sputter, the Democratic leaders said Republicans have failed to make jobs a priority, choosing instead to focus on a right-wing agenda – from attacks on worker rights and wages to attempts to gain political advantage through gerrymandering and limiting the right to vote.
“Despite being well positioned to move forward after weathering the financial storm from the last recession, Pennsylvania continues to take on water, and that is a byproduct of the lack of direction,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. “Most importantly, we’ve seen no leadership from the Republicans on jobs.”
Both the House and Senate Democratic caucuses have proposed comprehensive job-creation and economic development plans. The Corbett Administration and the Republican legislative caucuses have offered no comprehensive proposals to boost jobs and jumpstart Pennsylvania’s economy.
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody noted that 500,000 Pennsylvanians still remain unemployed. And, he said, the Corbett-Republican budget – which slashed public school funding by nearly $1 billion and decimated health care programs for seniors, individuals with disabilities and other vulnerable citizens – resulted in 21,000 jobs lost, including 14,000 public school positions.
“Governor Corbett and the Republicans in charge of the legislature haven’t just done nothing on jobs; they’ve actually made our job climate worse,” said Dermody, D-Allegheny. “They have failed, at every turn, to make working, middle-class families a priority. This has been a year of failure for the Republicans who control state government in Pennsylvania – failure on jobs, failure on transportation and failure to enact a fair tax on natural gas companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The list of failures goes on and on.”
The Democratic leaders’ comments came in response to Corbett’s mid-year budget briefing, in which the governor outlined a pessimistic outlook of budget revenues for the fiscal year. But Democrats noted that revenues are actually running ahead of last year’s numbers.
“Job creation must be our priority. The governor’s mid-year budget message is more of the same. It’s a repeat of the Republican message that less is more,” said Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent J. Hughes, D-Philadelphia. “That’s the wrong approach. It’s reverse investment at a time when we should be investing more in our roads, bridges, mass transit and our workers.”
“The governor is making his case for another three-quarters-of-a-billion dollars in needlessly painful cuts to our children’s public schools and to critical health and safety programs next year,” said House Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny. “That is on top of the draconian cuts in this year’s budget. This is more than just a lack of leadership; it’s dangerous governing. It’s time to make working, middle-class families the top priority, and that starts with jobs. The question I ask Pennsylvanians is: ‘How long are you going to stand for this?’”