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As Governor’s Budget Address Nears, Senate Democrats Begin Discussion of Priorities

We need a budget that moves Pennsylvania forward. During the next several weeks, I believe we need to focus our energy on job creation, restoring education funding, providing sufficient dollars for safety net programs and improving transportation infrastructure.

Senate Democrats have been able to identify nearly $1 billion in new revenues from smart policy changes, efficiencies and a responsible shale tax. We can make these necessary improvements that will boost our economy without increasing the burden on working families. Enough has been asked of them, and we will continue to make sure the legislature in Harrisburg knows that it is time to work for them and be cognizant of their needs. As I did last year, I will also be sending a letter to Governor Corbett to share our plan with him and urge him to work with us to create jobs and make government more efficient in a way that doesn't harm working class families.

Pennsylvania has regressed under Gov. Tom Corbett, who has produced no jobs plan while unemployment has stagnated. At the same time, the governor has driven education funding back to 2006 levels and funded higher education support at a level not seen since 1995, under former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge.

I voted against last year’s budget plan because I thought it would produce exceptionally high local tax bills, cut education quality and imperil schools. Now we have a crisis in the Chester Upland district, and there are at least ten more districts that may soon be in a similar position. Even the most efficient and well-funded districts are encountering difficulties because of last year’s decision to make over a billion dollars in cuts to public education.

We need to make strategic investments and create jobs. We can do that by adopting a responsible shale drilling plan that generates money for rebuilding roads and other infrastructure while we protect the environment and our communities with tough regulations.

Job creation, tax fairness, education funding, a fair severance fee for Marcellus Shale drillers, and the restoration of funds for safety net programs need to be a part of this year’s budget discussion. I plan to do everything in my power to make sure this happens.

Senate Democratic Caucus Budget & Policy Priorities

Budget and Policy Priorities Press Conference


Jobs & Economic Investment Must Remain Our Top Priority

  • State must continue to invest to grow our economy
  • PA Works – 40 bill package to restart economy and create jobs
  • Targeted training and education programs for quality workforce
  • Slashing state funds for job creation programs is wrong approach in a recession

Jobs & Our Economy

Gov. Corbett’s failure to lead has resulted in Pennsylvania going backward. We went from a national economic leader in new job creation (7th among all states) to trailing the national average in the most recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued 1/24/2012. He has proposed no new job creation ideas, stripped key job creation funds and has not been a leader on transportation investment.

Tax Priorities

While most PA families saw their local and school district taxes go up this year due to unprecedented cuts in state aid, misdirected tax policies for special interest friends cost the state more than a half billion dollars in business tax cuts and lost revenue due to the Governor’s stubborn refusal to tax Marcellus Shale.

A Competitive Marcellus Shale Tax Plan should not be a giveaway to the natural gas industry.

  • Tie new business tax cuts to jobs and development
  • Target tax relief for families & senior citizens
  • COLA for Poverty forgiveness eligibility thresholds
  • Property tax relief through redirection of table game revenues

A Strong Public Education System is Vital to Our Future

  • Increase investments in early learning & quality child care programs
  • Strengthen and enforce accountability standards for all schools
  • Set new long term benchmarks to meet state’s funding obligations

Nearly a decade of unprecedented education progress is now at risk due to mean-spirited, ill-conceived education priorities that have eliminated critical support for local schools. An estimated 15,000 teaching jobs have been lost just since June. The Chester Upland School District is now bankrupt with teachers working without pay since the beginning of January. Another dozen school districts will soon likely face a similar fate. Only one year ago, we were a national model for education success.

Stay Connected

For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me on the Internet through my website or on Facebook. Facebook

Senate Democratic 2012-13 Budget Priorities : January 25, 2012