Philadelphia – May 1st, 2014 –Senator Vincent Hughes released the following statement in response to news from the Independent Fiscal Office that declining April revenue collections reveal that Governor Corbett’s proposed budget over estimates available revenues by more than $1.2 billion:
“I am deeply troubled but not entirely surprised that Pennsylvania has a growing state budget deficit. This administration has simply done a poor job managing the state’s finances and economy. Last year, the Independent Fiscal office stated clearly that Pennsylvania had a structural budget deficit – that revenues were out of balance with expenditures and this administration has taken no positive action to fix that problem. Our current year shortfall has already fallen more than a half billion dollars below estimate. This will create an estimated revenue gap of more than $1.2 billion for the next fiscal year, making the job even tougher for lawmakers in Harrisburg as we begin budget deliberations.
“We have already offered a bill that would tax the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale at a rate of 5 percent. This responsible legislation would raise more than $700 million next year to close our revenue gap. Senate Democrats previously offered a commonsense plan detailing $1.1 billion in revenue options, include expanding Medicaid, slowing corporate tax cuts, and modernizing our state liquor store system. These are all good choices that would not require any broad-based tax increases and provide funding for key services. This stands in stark contrast to the Governor’s budget plan which includes $1.2 billion of one-time budget gimmicks and a phony revenue estimate, which was laid bare today by the IFO analysis.
“These alternatives not only provide ample revenue to erase the current budget gap, they additionally provide the necessary resources to fix some of the more egregious provisions of the governor’s original budget proposal. Bond rating agencies have already issued stern warnings that the Governor’s proposed budget continues a series of irresponsible budget and financial policies that will result in further downgrades to our bond ratings and significantly raise the cost of future borrowing.
“We cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of middle class and working families so that the privileged few can continue to avoid paying their fair share. Irresponsible budget policies that cut aid to public school districts, reduced food stamp eligibility, refused access to affordable health care, and slashed county programs to assist the elderly, poor, and disabled have largely caused the budget problems we now face.”
Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is also Democratic Chairman of PA Senate Appropriations Committee.