Budget lacks vision, fails schools, denies tax relief, adds to deficit woes

Harrisburg – June 30, 2015 – State Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) today said that the $30.1 billion Republican budget approved by the Senate today “doesn’t add up and doesn’t make any sense.”

“It is hard to conceive a spending plan that could be so deficient in so many areas,” Costa said. “It is out-of-balance, fails to make meaningful investments in schools, denies property tax relief, does not include a responsible Marcellus Shale extraction tax and ignores a structural deficit of $1.3 billion.

“In addition, the plan is built on gimmicks, sleight-of-hand accounting and phantom revenues.”

The budget bill (House Bill 1192) passed the Senate today on a party-line vote.

The Republican budget is $1.1 billion out-of-balance and would grow the deficit to $3 billion by Fiscal 2016-17, Costa said. The plan lacks meaningful investments in education, job creation or social safety net programs and does nothing to lower property taxes.

Costa said that under the Republican plan, the new net investment in basic education would be $8 million. Special education and early childhood education would only receive a fractional increase and higher education is apportioned so little that tuition increases would be assured.

He said the Republicans plan fails to deliver substantial property tax relief or a reasonable shale tax to fund education let alone address the $1.3 billion structural hole in state finances.

“The losers far outweigh the winners in the Republican budget,” Costa said. “No relief for property taxpayers, no help for students in basic and higher education, no new dollars to aid job creation and no increase in the minimum wage.”

Costa said he was shocked that the spending plan was so out of touch and that the Republicans refused to negotiate with legislative Democrats or Gov. Tom Wolf. He said he expected that the budget would get a cool reception from the governor and lawmakers would soon be scrambling to negotiate a real spending plan.

“The governor has offered a responsible budget proposal that addresses key initiatives including a shale tax, new, real investments in education and relief from a structural deficit,” Costa said. “We need to put this budget exercise aside and address real problems with real solutions.”