Budget Watch

October 27, 2017
Budget_Watch

Pennsylvania Budget: The End of the Road…For Now

Earlier this week – and more than four months into the fiscal year – the funding portion of the Pennsylvania state budget has passed.

capitolThe money to pay for the $32 billion in spending approved on 30 June will come from several sources. Approximately $30 billion comes from standard sources of revenue, such as taxes. To make up for the $2 billon gap, the state will borrow $1.5 billion, primarily from the Tobacco Settlement Fund. Special fund reserves will be raided as well, bringing in $300 million.

An additional $200 million in funding will come from the expansion of gambling, with Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) allowed at truck stops and legalized fantasy sport betting, iGaming and iLottery. I did not vote for expanded gambling. Many individuals that gamble are low-income and should not be relied on to foot the state’s bills with spending they cannot afford.   

Borrowing money is, as many of us know, never a sustainable approach. While we ultimately needed to pass a budget, we’re still kicking the can down the road. Tax payers are already paying more because of several credit downgrades; this approach only continues that cycle. Viable options for the long-term health of Pennsylvania would include a severance tax on shale, increasing the minimum wage and raising the tax rate on investments and dividends.

There are silver linings to this news, however. Stop-and-Go enforcement has been enhanced. Law enforcement can now immediately impose a temporary liquor license suspension on those locations that are not compliant. Previously, these establishments were given a relatively light fine and permitted to continue serving while their infractions were reviewed.

A fix for the School District of Philadelphia funding was also included in the budget, which will save around $220 million. Additionally, state-related universities (Penn State, Temple, Lincoln and Pitt) will all receive the funding they had been allocated in June. However, higher education continues to be underfunded overall in the commonwealth. Pennsylvania has the second-highest student loan rate in the nation. As I have said before, we are sending the future of our state elsewhere by not investing in higher ed.

It is good that we can now move forward with a finalized budget. It is unfortunate that the road has taken this long and there is still work to be done for Pennsylvania’s future. As always, continue to keep your legislators accountable. We work for you.

Participation is power.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator

4th District

 

 
 
October 6, 2017
Budget_Watch

The End of the Road for the PA Budget

This is may be my last budget blast of 2017.

Why? This is not because the legislature finally worked out an agreement on how to pay for the $32 billion in spending approved in June. That did not happen, despite state senators being called to the capitol this past week for an unscheduled session.

Three months since the June 30 deadline, and for the second year in a row, the legislature has failed to balance the budget. We still do not have a tax on shale extraction. We still have not raised the minimum wage. Without a balanced budget, there is no money for Temple, Lincoln, Penn State or Pitt.

Governor Wolf Draws Line in The Sand on Budget After Repeated GOP Failure and Obstruction

Governor Wolf will have to save Pennsylvania – education, senior services, health programs and the countless other programs and resources we rely on – through a combination of borrowing ($1.2 billion from the Liquor Control Board), tapping into reserve funds and cuts. In a statement released yesterday, the governor said that he will have to “manage the finances of the Commonwealth until the House sees fit to do what it’s supposed to do.”

Short of a curveball from the House on increased spending – for example, funding allocated to the state-related universities – or an eleventh-hour agreement between the House and Senate, Governor Wolf’s stated plans for moving forward are the temporary solution to a pattern of budget disasters.

Our 2016 budget failure put the commonwealth into a billion-dollar hole. Our 2017 borrowing solution will only compound the troubles we’ve carried over from 2016.  Just like the pension debt, the legislature again refuses to cover the expenses that are due.

We have not dodged the consequences of continuous financial mismanagement and irresponsibility. A credit downgrade, levied against the commonwealth two weeks ago, will cost taxpayers at least $10 million annually, in addition to the $100 million already being paid for previous bad credit. Our competition for jobs is undermined by our failure to invest in education, career training and higher education. Shale drillers pay no severance tax while earning billions in profits and hardworking men and women earn a poverty pay of $7.25 per hour.

We are on an unsustainable path.  We must work to turn the state around.

Governor Wolf Draws Line in The Sand on Budget After Repeated GOP Failure and Obstruction

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator

4th District

 

 
September 22, 2017
Budget_Watch

Short-Term Fixes Mean Long-Term Problems for PA Budget

It happened.

CapitolAfter months of warnings, Standard & Poors downgraded Pennsylvania’s credit on Wednesday morning, citing decades of mismanagement. We now have the fifth lowest credit rating in the nation. The delay in adopting a revenue package– now 12 weeks into the fiscal year – didn’t help, but the S&P downgrade is primarily a clear signal that the one-time fixes Pennsylvania has continuously relied on will not work. Without an overhaul to the commonwealth’s bad habits, hard-working Pennsylvanians will continue to pick up the tab. Taxpayers are already paying an additional $100 million annually toward interest; this latest downgrade will only add to that sum.

As John Baer noted in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer column, my Fair Share Tax plan would go a long way in addressing long-term budgetary issues. It also has the added benefit of ensuring that every Pennsylvanian pays what they should; those who earn more, pay more. Borrowing every year is clearly not an option. The Fair Share Tax plan would be a sustainable source of revenue for things like public education and infrastructure projects.

ChamberAt this point, the Senate has voted against adopting the House GOP’s revenue package. Instead, leadership from all caucuses will convene and determine if a compromise is possible. This should have happened months ago – prior to the 30 June budget deadline – but the House GOP preferred to take the summer off. Once an agreement is made, House and Senate leaders will discuss with their respective members to gauge their support.

Governor Wolf has told the legislature that without visible progress by next week, he will be forced to further “manage this situation.” Without the ability to borrow money to meet our current spending needs, cuts will be the only option.

The House will be back in Harrisburg next week. The Senate is not scheduled to return until mid-October. As I’ve said before, all legislators should stay in session until the budget is complete.

#NoBudgetNoBreak

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator

4th District

 

 
September 8, 2017
Budget_Watch

End of Summer Doesn’t Mean End of Budget Issues

Reaching Agreement: Terms

CapitolThe House will be back in session on Monday. Given the “solutions” some Republican members have publicized in the recent days, it does not appear they will be bringing Pennsylvania closer to a reasonable resolution anytime soon.

Some GOP proposals require raiding funds dedicated to special causes, such as environmental protection, emergency response coordination, public transportation and small businesses. These programs are part of basic government activities and are already operating on a limited budget after years of similar tactics. Framing these special causes as resources for extra money is false. Senators did not find an extra $2 billion lying around. 

Billions of dollars in cuts are just as unreasonable. Governor Wolf has stated that once cash runs out, with no revenue package and without the ability to continue borrowing, he will be forced to make cuts to keep Pennsylvania running. The House GOP proposals also call for major spending cuts to basic government activities. These cuts could include hundreds of millions of dollars from public education, no funding for state-related universities, cuts to state police, food safety and more than hundreds of millions in cuts to programs in health and human services.

As I have said before, I favor government accountability and if it were possible to cut unnecessary funds, I would not be opposed. But it is not possible to cut our way to $2 billion. The only sustainable way forward is through raising revenue. There are methods of doing so. Raise taxes on the billion-dollar corporations that extract shale (and profits) from Pennsylvania. I have co-sponsored legislation, the Fair Share Tax Plan, that would ensure the wealthiest Pennsylvanians are doing their part in paying for state-wide services and programs. Raise the minimum wage, so that people can afford to pay more in taxes. Raising taxes without raising the minimum wage is a mistake. 

ChamberReaching Agreement: Timing

The Senate is slated to return to the capitol on Monday, 18 September. After that Wednesday, we are not scheduled to be back until mid-October. Representatives are off the week of 18 September, the week that we are in session. I believe no legislator should be on break until a revenue plan is passed. The House and Senate should remain in session until the budget is complete.  The fiscal year started more than two months ago; there is no excuse to be this late on finalizing the budget. The House GOP promised a solution before the end of summer. Many necessary programs for hard-working Pennsylvanians hang in the balance until an agreement is reached.  #nobudgetnobreak

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator

4th District

 

 
August 25, 2017
Budget_Watch

Harrisburg on Vacation

chamberHouse GOP leadership promised to finish the budget that was due in June by the end of summer.  It’s now the end of August and they have not even been in Harrisburg at all this month. The House GOP leadership will not return from summer vacations to discuss how to pay for government spending until 11 September. Now, almost two months into the budget year, the House has no agreement with the Senate and Governor Wolf and no plan of its own. 

An agreement on how to pay for the $32 billion the legislature decided to spend at the end of June appears illusive. The state Senate’s proposed revenue package was passed nearly a month ago and sent to the House for approval. There is no action in the House.

Pennsylvanians are in a tough spot because of the failure of the legislature. On one hand, according to Treasurer Joe Torsella, Pennsylvania will run out of money soon. Additionally, the Treasurer has said he will not lend the state any more money following a $750 million loan made earlier this month. The Treasurer let us know that borrowing to cover expenses without an approved revenue plan from the legislature might violate the Pennsylvania Constitution. Governor Wolf cannot force the Treasurer to loan the money.

On the other hand, some politicians have asked the Governor to freeze or cut spending. Freezing spending means that some state-funded programs and services for older adults, child care for families, colleges and universities for students, courts, processing of driver’s licenses and unemployment compensation and other services could be cut. Support for state-related universities like Temple University, University of Pittsburg, Penn State University and Lincoln University hasn’t been approved yet. No citizen deserves to be without basic government services because some politicians in Harrisburg don’t do the job they’ve been elected to do. Moreover, Governor Wolf has no guidance from the legislature on what to cut or freeze.

Not only are we facing looming cuts, but also an expensive credit downgrade from Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s or another rating agency is on the horizon. Each credit downgrade wastes tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on interest payments. Leaders in the current legislature allowed annual credit downgrades over the tenure of Governor Corbett that are costing us over $100 million a year now.

Given the multiple failures of Harrisburg politicians, the Governor has indicated that he will begin spending cuts on 15 September. That’s four days after the entire House will back in Harrisburg, on 11 September.  Requiring Governor Wolf to make the cuts that the legislature will not is a failing of the legislature to govern.

What Can Be Done?

Senator Haywood hosts #RaisetheWage Rally
Senator Haywood Host #RaisetheWage Rally - Watch

The legislature clearly lacked the discipline to finish the full budget by 30 June. However, before we try to require the legislature remain in Harrisburg until a budget is done, we do have a path to an immediate approval of the revenue to cover the expenses. The House should approve the Senate plan with one change. The Senate plan included undesirable taxes on telephone, gas and electric use, but these taxes raise about $500 million dollars that are needed. We can reduce the impact of the tax increase and make our local economies healthier by raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, today. 

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 in September 2017 will add millions of income and sales tax revenue to the state, upwards of $40 million. Plus, many families that are in low-wage jobs rely on Medicaid for health care. Raising the minimum wage will reduce state Medicaid spending by tens of millions of dollars. Plus, jobs will be created, not lost, from more consumer spending, according to the Keystone Research Center. 

Raising the minimum wage will not only help individuals and their families, it will also contribute to the state budget solution, while ensuring less people need to make use of government-subsidized resources, like Medicaid. As we raise taxes, we must also raise the minimum wage.

I am confident that with large citizen advocacy, the House will incorporate a raise to the minimum wage as a means to also raise revenue and cut spending in its proposed package. The Senate should approve it as well. Without relieving poverty pay, it is unfair to ask hard-working Pennsylvanians to contribute more – especially when corporations continue to receive incentives and avoid paying their fair share.

I encourage you to reach out to your Harrisburg legislators to tell them to #RaisetheWage.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
August 11, 2017
Budget_Watch

PA Budget: On Thin Ice

Capitol MoneyIt is now six weeks into the 2017-2018 fiscal year. It’s been two weeks since the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a revenue package. The House GOP has given no indication that there will be a response on their end any time soon.

They are putting the commonwealth in a precarious position.

The future of Pennsylvania relies on a competitive, talented workforce. We need to invest in the education of our young people to ensure we can attract and retain businesses here. More business equals more jobs. More jobs mean more people can afford to contribute to the commonwealth’s economy, making a healthier, more sustainable Pennsylvania for us all.

That is why the funding for State-related schools – Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University – is an issue of special concern. Until a revenue package is agreed on by the House, Senate and Governor Wolf, the millions slated to go to these schools will not be approved.

Tuition is already set (and in many cases, paid) for the 2017-2018 academic year. If these schools are required to borrow or find money otherwise to make up for the funding they usually receive from the state, it is the students next year who will have to pay the difference.  

Senator HaywoodPennsylvania residents already have the second-highest level of student debt in the country. By not addressing the revenue package, the House stands to add to the financial burden. A few weeks ago, I joined colleagues in the Senate, as well as several Philadelphia-area State Representatives, at Temple University to bring attention to the impending funding crisis.

The young people in our colleges and universities today represent the Pennsylvania of tomorrow. They have worked hard their entire academic careers to gain admission into schools like Pitt, Temple, Penn State and Lincoln. They already face sizeable loan repayments upon graduation; they shouldn’t have to pay more because legislators in the capitol want to use funding for higher education as a bargaining chip.

Additionally, Democratic members of the House have discussed including raising the minimum wage as a component of the deal they reach. I am encouraged by this and will hold a press conference next Thursday, 17 August to urge legislators to incorporate raising the minimum wage into the final deal. We need to pull Pennsylvanians out of poverty pay.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
July 28, 2017
Budget_Watch

PA Revenue Package: Big Business Still in the Driver Seat

CapitolThe Senate voted yesterday on a revenue package, one month into the fiscal year, to balance the Pennsylvania budget. Senate leadership came together to reach an agreement. While I ultimately voted no, I do recognize the complexity involved in reaching a difficult compromise and thank my colleagues for their efforts. The House has yet to do the same.

Like with all compromises, there are pros and cons to what was passed. We have been fighting for a tax on shale for more than a decade and won. This revenue package includes a shale tax that will deliver approximately $100 million. Although it will produce much less revenue than the bill I introduced in 2015, it is a start.

Additionally, the Senate agreed to a $65 million per year fix of the school funding formula for Philadelphia public schools. It also imposed teacher layoff provisions that ignore seniority that I oppose.

I am not opposed to raising taxes when appropriate. Like with all things in life, if you want something, you should be prepared to pay for it. This plan would not increase sales or income taxes. However, the Senate did approve taxes on natural gas, electricity and telephone usage.

Senator Haywood on the the passage of House Bill 542
Senator Haywood on the the passage of House Bill 542

When we raise taxes on everyday people without paying them a reasonable wage, we must consider the impact on their wallets. There are more than one million Pennsylvanians in low-wage and poverty pay jobs. Without raising the minimum wage, we continue to make it difficult for so many hard-working moms and dads to make ends meet for their families. There is a pathway adopted by many states to $10, $12 and even $15 an hour.

The Senate compromise also includes borrowing $1.3 billion secured by tobacco settlement funds. While the cessation and prevention programs these funds usually support won’t be impacted next year, it’s likely they will be in the following year.

Because the revenue package ignored raising the minimum wage and included $1.3 billion in borrowing, I could not vote in favor of it. The legislature has consistently taken steps to ease the burden for businesses. It’s time we do the same for hard-working Pennsylvanians.

Stay tuned for updates on the House’s schedule. Until they vote, Pennsylvania is still in limbo.

A Few More Points… There are no major changes to the liquor law. Enforcement of liquor violations by “Stop and Go” establishments will be stepped up. To help counteract the new cost for low-income consumers, an additional $20 million will be added to the LIHEAP energy grants

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
 
July 14, 2017
Budget_Watch

Stuck in Traffic: No Progress to Report

chamberTwo weeks after the deadline for adopting a budget, the GOP-controlled legislature has failed.

The senate has approved $32 billion in spending for public schools, colleges and universities, state troopers, medical care, courts and other government work.  Yet we have yet to identify where the $32 billion needed to pay for it all will come from.

In the meantime, Standard and Poors (S&P) put Pennsylvania on negative watch after several credit downgrades under Republican rule between 2010 and 2014. S&P raised the alert of “financial mismanagement” of the commonwealth, The credit downgrades cost taxpayers more than $100 million annually. That’s $1 billion over 10 years. Much like interest paid on credit cards, this money is not going toward anything useful. It is $100 million that is not being spent on higher education, state troopers, medical care, nursing home care, treatment for opioid/heroin addiction.

Part of the solution of the GOP controlled legislature is to borrow over a billion dollars.  The State Treasurer and Auditor General have also made it clear that the state is borrowing too much to cover our expenses. This is a mistake that could be avoided.

That’s the problem. What’s a solution?  

Capitol MoneyFirst, don’t put the burden on everyday people, as has been done in the past with the expansion of gambling. The states that have allowed gambling online (New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada) don’t have much to show for it. New Jersey, the most successful of the three, projected more than $1.2 billion in added revenue in the first year. In the four years since the legislation passed, total revenue is slightly more than $100 million. Additionally,  those least capable – financially and socially – spend money on the expanded gambling options.

Second, get the needed money by taxing the natural gas drillers and the wealthy top five percent, who earn money from capital gains, royalties and dividends. The commonwealth continues to depend on the average, hard-working Pennsylvanian to contribute too much of their income to pay for too much of the services and resources we all make use of. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it until we win: those who can afford to – most wealthy and natural gas drillers – must be required to pay their fair share.

For too many years, Harrisburg has been led by a fiscally reckless majority. Raiding reserves and rainy day funds, and other questionable accounting gimmicks, will not work. It’s time for a change.

Budget “Highlights”

Time to Raise the WageThe spending portion of the budget that was passed on 30 June includes the below:

  • No increase in the minimum wage
  • Increases the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency by $7.13 million for drug courts and opioid-related initiatives
  • Provides $12 million for the Manufacturing PA initiative, which connects Industrial Resource Centers with research universities to prepare a 21st-century workforce
  • Increases K-12 funding by $100 million
    • Public schools in the 4th District saw the following increases:
      • School District of Philadelphia = $30.23 million
      • Abington School District = $213,903
      • Cheltenham School District = $112,984
      • Jenkintown School District = $58,890
      • Springfield Township School District = $48,500
  • healthcareHealthcare:
    • Increases home and community-based services by $13 million for services to an additional 1,428 seniors
    • Increases the Living Independence for the Elderly program by $7 million to serve 600 additional seniors
    • Funds the waiting lists for intellectual disabilities and autism
    • Cuts funding for the State Health Care Centers by more than half
  • Higher Education
    • Maintains level funding of Arcadia, Lasalle, Chestnut Hill College and private colleges to assist lower income students
    • Maintains level funding of state universities

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
June 30, 2017
Budget_Watch

Budget U-Turn

Earlier today, the Senate passed a $31.9 billion budget that has corrected the disastrous course proposed by the House GOP in April.

Senator Haywood Interview on the
Passage of the State Budget Spending Plan
Senator Haywood Interview on the Passage of the State Budget Spending Plan

The Senate has added approximately $474 million to restore line items cut in the House bill and the Governor’s proposed budget. Funding will remain even for many programs, including grants given to private colleges, transportation for public education, adult probation, childcare, libraries and public higher education. The agency consolidation advocated for by Governor Wolf will only combine the Department of Health and Department of Human Services into one. The Departments of Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs will stay separate.

The proposed budget includes the below:

The Better:

  • There has been a $54 million increase in spending overall
  • Pre-K to 12th grade funding will go up approximately $155 million

The Worse:

  • Many critical departments will see cuts, such as $4 million from Emergency Management and nearly $1.4 million from Drug and Alcohol Programs
  • No raise to the minimum wage
  • No plan to raise revenue, which means…
  • …we will likely rely on borrowing and the expansion of gambling to pay for this

I cannot and did not vote for a budget that maintains the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Our state lags in job creation because consumer spending is constrained by low wages. Expanding gambling further takes money away from these same hard-working Pennsylvanians to pay for the obligations of all residents.   

While this is an improvement over the House bill, Pennsylvanians – and Pennsylvania- can’t survive on $7.25 an hour.

While the Senate has temporarily avoided a complete wreck, this is not the best route for the commonwealth and the Senate still needs to determine where the money to pay for the above will come from. Stay tuned.

Other News from the Capitol

Senator Haywood Interview on Passage of Senate Bill 383
Senator Haywood Interview on Passage of Senate Bill 383

In the last days of session before Summer recess, the following legislation passed:

  • A “Clean Slate” bill for people who committed non-violent misdemeanors or were charged and not convicted, and have had no crimes in 10 years passed unanimously.
  • SB 383 permits individual school districts to decide whether personnel should have guns in schools. It passed 28-22, despite criticism from survivors of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  

Senate will be back in session on Wednesday, 5 July to discuss the final revenue proposal to pay for the expenses authorized by the bill we just passed.

Have a Happy 4th of July

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
 
June 16, 2017
Budget_Watch

Proceed with Caution

Last week I received a letter from the department heads of Human Services, Aging, Health, and Drug and Alcohol regarding proposed cuts to services for families and communities. I also received a letter from the State Treasurer and Auditor General regarding extensive borrowing that has been necessary to make ends meet. Both letters were shocking due to the extent of the damage that could result if these actions continue to move forward. These letters come after confirmation from the Independent Fiscal Office in May that the state is over $2 billion short in covering the cost of services to the commonwealth for the year beginning July 1, 2017.

House GOP Budget Promises Rainy Days for PennsylvaniansThe joint department letter outlined the severe cuts to families and children included in the House GOP budget that was passed earlier this spring. That budget cut $62.9 million from child care services and will leave up to 10,000 children without child care, many of them in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. In addition, $9 million in cuts to mental health and substance abuse funding is in this proposed, destructive budget. These cuts mean that 1,200 people will be without access to treatment for substance abuse. Plus, $6 million in home and community-based care will be eliminated. Thus, 300 people will lose essential services so that they may stay in their communities.

Vastly expanded gambling is the suggested method for raising money, along with up to $2 billion in cuts proposed by Governor Wolf. While I support many, but not all, of the cuts proposed by the Governor, I cannot support a massive and unsustainable expansion of gambling any more than I can the extreme House GOP budget. The recently passed pension reform will also add to costs in the next 10 years, not reduce them.

Detour

 
One of my interns, Amaya, shares her thoughts
on the House GOP budget.
One of my interns, Amaya, shares her thoughts on the House GOP budget.

Given the dire state of our situation as described in these letters, we can pay to protect families and communities and stop excessive borrowing with an increased tax on income from wealth such as capital gains from 3.07 percent to 4.27 percent. This would bring in slightly more than $1 billion. Nearly half of the increased taxes would come from the top 1 percent of earners; a little less than 70 percent would come from the top 5 percent with incomes over $300,000.

Alternatively, we could raise $1 billion with a modest increase of our personal income tax from the current 3.07 percent to 3.31 percent. The impact of this increase is $10.13 per month for an individual making $50,000 per year. This too would preserve the care that many Pennsylvanians rely on and reduce the extensive borrowing. 

Either of these tax increases offer a commonsense alternative to the expansion of gambling and the disastrous cuts that have been proposed. I hope you will join me in supporting these necessary steps for the sake of our communities.

 

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
 
June 2, 2017
Budget_Watch

Budget Watch Update

Last week, the Senate voted to expand gambling in Pennsylvania. Fantasy sports contests, interactive gaming kiosks in airports, online gambling and iLottery would be authorized and taxed. Online Casino

The legislation still needs to pass in the House and receive approval from Governor Wolf, but we should remain cautious. Without adopting my and Senator Hughes’ Fair Share Tax Plan, the state will need to find revenue somewhere when we vote on the budget. As of now, the expansion of gambling is the likely source. This poses an issue for several reasons.

Frequently, those who can least afford to gamble are those that do. Rather than requiring high-earners and corporations to pay their fair share (as they would with the Fair Share Tax Plan), the expansion of gambling would continue to rely on average, hard-working Pennsylvanians to pay more toward funding state government services.

Projected taxes from gambling are often inflated. There is no guarantee that the range of additional income that has been calculated – between $109 million to $147 million – will come to fruition. In the 2013-2014 budget year, then-Governor Corbett proposed an expansion of tavern gaming licenses and assumed it would bring in nearly $100 million annually. Over the course of three years, only about $3 million in total has been collected.

Additionally, older Pennsylvanians may suffer. The Pennsylvania State Lottery makes many valuable programs for seniors possible. Though more revenue is expected with the implementation of the iLottery, it is only logical to assume the dollars that have historically gone to the Lottery will be siphoned away with expanded gambling options.

Gambling expansion is an unlikely cure-all for our budget issues, and shouldn’t be relied upon to fund much-needed government programs. With less than 30 days to go until the budget deadline, we are still headed in the wrong direction.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

 
May 19, 2017
Budget_Watch

Wrong Way

GOP members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a budget in April that is wrong for Pennsylvania.

Time to raise the wageFirst, their budget does not address the low pay of hard-working Pennsylvanians, alongside the disappearance of good paying jobs. Over a million Pennsylvanians are stuck in low-paying jobs and thousands more earn the poverty pay of $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage. These individuals must choose between paying rent, putting food on the table or buying necessary medication. No hard-working person should have to make these choices because of low pay.

Three out of five small business owners support raising the minimum wage. It makes basic economic sense. The American economy is a consumer economy. The more consumers buy, the more businesses sell. The more you pay people who are in need, the more they can buy. Raising the wage in Pennsylvania to even $10 per hour would help more than a million people and generate a huge economic stimulus.

Second, their budget relies on a massive expansion of gambling –  almost $1 billion in gambling money. Those who gamble are generally least able to afford it, and yet they are expected to do more to help cover the state budget gap. That’s wrong. Plus, the House GOP continues to offer breaks to those industries and individuals who can actually afford to pay. Pennsylvania has been called the “Saudi Arabia of shale,” and yet the House GOP budget would allow multibillion dollar corporations to enlarge their profits without paying a severance tax to the state. 

Stop Sign

Two weeks ago, the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) reported that Pennsylvania will end the fiscal year on June 30 about $1 billion short and will start the new fiscal year on July 1 with a $3 billion deficit. What does that mean?  It means we need to stop our current direction at the IFO’s warning. Otherwise, we will face deep cuts in government services to you and a massive increase in gambling in our homes and communities, no change in the wait list for support of caregivers for elderly, no change to the low pay those who care for the elderly earn and no change in Pennsylvania’s student loan debt, which is currently 3rd highest in the nation.

U-Turn

Lawmakers’ Plan Offers Middle Class Tax Cut, Ensures Wealthiest Pay ‘Fair Share’
Lawmakers’ Plan Offers Middle Class Tax Cut, Ensures Wealthiest Pay ‘Fair Share’

We need to turn around. Senator Vince Hughes and I have proposed a Fair Share tax, which would cut taxes for most Pennsylvanians and raise them for the wealthiest. Under the Fair Share Tax plan, the rate on certain categories of income would be raised, while the rate on wages and interest would be reduced. Most Pennsylvanians would see a tax cut, and an additional $2 billion in revenue would be raised for investment in critical educational, environmental and infrastructural projects. This legislation, alongside the wage increase proposed in Governor Wolf’s budget, would help the commonwealth progress. The House GOP budget is taking us toward a dead end.

A final budget will need to be approved before 30 June. The current iteration will likely be addressed in the Senate soon. I will continue to provide biweekly Budget eBlasts, and encourage you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more frequent updates. We cannot continue to go down a path marked clearly by a “Wrong Way” sign.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

Analysis of Revenue Proposals
 
 
March 28, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

Last week, Governor Wolf allowed the latest 2015-16 Republican budget to pass without his signature. Governor Wolf made the decision to let the budget pass so that our schools do not face the threat of another shutdown this year; however, the Governor has made it clear that the math in this budget does not add up. Spending in the latest Republican budget simply does not match revenue. As a result, our commonwealth will face an approximately $1.9 billion deficit within three months.

House Republican leadership spent nine months trying to avoid raising state taxes, and they succeeded. State taxes will not go up this year. What does that mean for everyday Pennsylvanians? Local taxes will go up as they have in the past in order to support basic programs – including schools – that are not receiving adequate state support. While politicians can claim that they have not raised taxes, the effects of their “no more taxes” position will lead to local tax increases across the state.

TownhallWhere do we go from here? We must increase citizen advocacy for a sustainable reinvestment in Pennsylvania in the 2016-17 budget and thereafter. We cannot settle for another smoke and mirrors budget that abandons our state’s commitment to education, human services, infrastructure and fair wages. Organized citizens must come together to demand we build a 21st Century Pennsylvania. While a responsible budget will come at a cost, the burden on everyday people should be minimized and good corporate citizenship must be encouraged. I am in the process of reviewing fair taxation proposals that would fit this set of principles.

This is the last Budget Watch for the 2015-16 budget. Updates on the 2016-17 budget will resume later this year. In the interim, I encourage you to attend my Town Hall Meeting tomorrow at 10 AM at Center in the Park in Germantown. At the meeting, I will answer questions on the state budget and provide suggestions for citizen advocacy.

I also encourage you to begin using the Citizen Advocacy Hub that can be found on my website. This new feature allows you to easily contact your state legislators by phone and email about issues such as school funding and raising the minimum wage. Tools such as these can increase our effectiveness as citizen advocates this year.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

March 21, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

Last week’s vote was painful. We have schools, universities and agricultural programs in desperate need of state funding, but what Republicans handed us was a spend-only bill that does not match our available funds. We have legislative leadership that refuses to increase taxes to pay for our state’s basic obligations, even while it commits to spending money we do not have.

classroomLast week’s budget legislation would leave Pennsylvania $290 million short in revenue for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Within less than four months, it would leave our state $1.9 billion short, as Republicans admit. With that kind of deficit, we would be forced to make additional cuts to education in the months ahead. The Governor’s office has calculated that this deficit would lead to 23,000 teacher layoffs across the commonwealth while raising property taxes and limiting senior services.

Funding education is one of my highest priorities and we must make the necessary investment in these pathways to opportunity across the state; but, you cannot make a sustainable investment with money you do not have. That is why I have sponsored revenue-generating legislation – including a shale severance tax – to fund education.

I am committed to keeping Pennsylvania’s schools open for both the short and the long-term. I encourage Governor Wolf to keep schools open by the means available to him for as long as he can. However, I do not live in a fantasy world where we can invest in education with invisible money.

A budget with sustainable revenue for our schools is the best path forward. I will continue to fight for Pennsylvania’s education funding, and I refuse to settle for the trickery that the latest Republican budget represents.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

March 21, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

Raise the WageAs you may know, raising the minimum wage is a critical component of our state’s budget that can increase revenue while lifting our neighbors out of poverty and boosting Pennsylvania’s economy. While there is bipartisan support for raising our state’s minimum wage in the Senate, a few Republican leaders are standing in the way of bringing this issue to a vote.

This week, Raise the Wage PA has organized a Week of Action to tell these legislators to stop blocking dignified wages. I encourage you to find an event and contact community organizers listed in your area so that your voice is heard. Turn your participation into power.

Raise the Wage Week of Action Events
     
Location Contact Event
Philadelphia Adam Goldman
Philadelphia Unemployment Project
agoldman@philaup.org
215-557-0822 x127
Thursday, March 17th at 1pm, rally at Broad & Arch
Lancaster Paige Lower
PA Working Families
plower@workingfamilies.org
717-649-5387
 
Bucks Lena Glickman
PA Working Families
lglickman@workingfamilies.org
551-579-3844
Rally on Sat, March 19th, 1:30pm outside
Valley Gate shopping complex
251 Easton Road, Warrington PA
DelCo Amy Fetherolf
PA Working Families
afetherolf@workingfamilies.org
215-792-4226
 
Allentown Eric Fritz
PA Working Families
efritz@workingfamilies.org
484-223-8718
 
Reading AJ Marin
Make the Road PA
adanjesus.marin@maketheroadpa.org
Saturday, March 12th at 11:30am,
meet at Make the Road PA office,
501 Washington Ave, Suite 404
Reading, PA, then march to Penn Plaza
and human billboard/honk and wave event
NEPA Kennie Harr
UU Church of Wyoming Valley
570-283-4291
kennie.harr@verizon.net
Rally & Vigil at Sen. Baker’s Dallas
office, 22 Dallas Village, Mon, 3/16 @ 3pm
Lebanon Jake Long
717-376-6996
jaklong464@live.com
 
Harrisburg Sandy Strauss
PA Council of Churches
717-545-4761
s.strauss@pachurches.org
Sam Jones
Restaurant Opportunities Center
267-738-7440
samuel@rocunited.org
Press conference on front steps of Capitol Tuesday, March 15th, 12 Noon
York Sandra Thompson
PA NAACP
717-577-4436
 
State College Ken Riznyk
UU Fellowship of Centre County
kenriznyk@yahoo.com
 
Pittsburgh Jordan Romanus
Restaurant Opportunities Center
724-833-5158
 
Erie Diana Ames
Mental Health Association of NW PA
814-452-4462 x141
814-431-8011, 814-456-16 19
pceh@hotmail.com
Talking tour and rally on
Monday, 14th. 1:30pm at
Griswold Plaza in Erie, PA

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

March 7, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

Today, Governor Wolf used his power to raise the minimum wage for state government employees and contractors through an executive order. This action ensures state employees and contractors no longer receive poverty paychecks for their hard work. $10.15 an hour indexed to inflation is a vast improvement over $7.25 an hour. Pennsylvanians can’t survive on $7.25, whether they work for the government or outside of it. Unfortunately, employees who do not work for our government remain stuck with poverty pay because a few Republican senators refuse to vote on this issue.

With our state’s minimum wage at $7.25, we have hard working single mothers with children who are choosing between food and eviction. We have thousands of seniors stuck in low-pay jobs facing the same choice. They are stuck with wages that deny their dignity.

A majority of the Senate agrees that we must raise the minimum wage. We are blocked by a few members of Republican leadership that are getting in the way of a raise for over one million hardworking Pennsylvanians. It is time that they free the pay we deserve and allow Pennsylvanians their dignity. Today I call on all citizens to contact their legislators to demand a vote to raise the minimum wage.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

February 29, 2016
Budget_Watch

Budget HearingsDear Neighbor,

Senate hearings for next year’s budget continue this week. Tomorrow, I will take part in the Department of Aging hearing in my role as Minority Chair of the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth. I encourage you to watch all of the budget hearings online. Here is the schedule for this week’s hearings:

Monday, February 29, 2016

10:00 AM  – Department of Corrections/Board of Probations and Parole
1:00 PM  – Department of Transportation
Budget

Watch Live View Schedule

3:00 PM  – Department of Labor and Industry

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

10:00 AM  – Department of General Services
1:00 PM  – Department of Aging
3:00 PM  – Department of Agriculture

Wednesday March 2, 2016

10:00 AM  – State Related Universities
1:00 PM  – PA State System of Higher Education
3:00 PM  – PA Emergency Management Agency/Fire Commissioner

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

 
February 22, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

Budget HearingsSenate hearings for next year’s budget began today and will continue for the next three weeks. These hearings allow department heads and experts from across the state to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Pennsylvania’s funding needs in specific areas. Senators not on the Appropriations Committee are invited to join the committee for hearings in areas of individual expertise. Because we remain with only a partial budget for this year, these hearings that are meant to focus on the 2016-17 budget will likely also involve questioning on the 2015-16 budget. As you know, this year’s budget still falls woefully short of meeting citizens’ rights to a 21st century education, a living wage and affordable property taxes.

I encourage you to watch the budget hearings as they take place this year. You can watch the hearings through a livestream online. Here is the schedule for budget hearings this week:

Monday, February 22, 2016

10:00 am – Governor’s Office/Governor’s Budget Office/Executive Offices
1:00 pm – Independent Fiscal Office – Economic Outlook & Revenue OverviewBudget

Watch Live View Schedule

3:00 pm – Department of Health

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

10:00 am – Judiciary
1:00 pm – Treasury Department
3:00 pm – Auditor General

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

10:00 am – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
1:00 pm – State Police/Homeland Security
3:00 pm – Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs

Thursday, February 25, 2016

10:00 am – Department of Environmental Protection
1:00 pm – Department of Community & Economic Development
3:00 pm – Attorney General

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

February 16, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

Last Tuesday, Governor Wolf fulfilled his duty to Pennsylvanians by delivering his budget message for 2016-17. The budget address is an annual requirement for each governor, but the message this year was unusual.

Governor Wolf did not talk about his 2016-17 budget plans in detail, but instead made a call to finish the 2015-16 budget and face our state’s fiscal crisis. The partial budget the Governor signed in December is about 80% of the amount spent in 2014 and over $7 billion short of the amount of the compromise framework that fell apart in December. Agreed upon increases in education, human services and job creation are missing. In fact, we have fallen $429 million short of 2010-11 school funding.

In his address last week, the Governor made it plain that we are headed toward financial disaster at the same time as we are abandoning our children. Even if we make no new investments in education or human services next year, Pennsylvania will be spending $1.8 billion beyond our means according to the Independent Fiscal Office. Without new taxes, the commonwealth is faced with over $1.8 billion in spending cuts. One option to put our finances in order is cutting $1 billion from basic and higher education, eliminating all job creation investments and cutting human services. Spending that is obligatory – on prisons, troopers, nursing homes, and federal matching programs – could not be cut.

On the other hand, our state government is already shrinking according to a report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Last year, we had 4400 fewer employees than in 2010. Instead of cutting critical services further, we could make ends meet with an income tax increase from 3.07 to 3.52%. This alone would generate $1.8 billion for our commonwealth. For a person earning $40,000 a year, the cost of this investment in our future is $15 per month. The return on this investment is a financially stable commonwealth.

As I have said repeatedly, it is time to invest in each other – not turn our backs on our future.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

 
February 8, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

As you may know, tomorrow is Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget address. Yes: Pennsylvania only has a piecemeal budget for 2015-16 and we have already reached discussions about next year’s budget.

Gov WolfAlthough it is a new year, the fight for everyday Pennsylvanians has not changed. Radical Republicans in our state’s legislature continue to get in the way of the right to fair wages, a 21st century education for our children and affordable property taxes for the elderly. They continue to put the interests of shale drilling companies ahead of everyday people and refuse to tax shale extraction.

It is time that those who stand in the way of the rights of hardworking Pennsylvanians move over and allow school funding, a raise in the minimum wage and property tax cuts for seniors. Stay informed by watching the Governor’s Budget Address tomorrow here.

Watching the Governor’s Budget Address tomorrow here

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

February 1, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors:

Unfortunately, there is little positive news to report regarding the completion of the 2015-16 state budget. There is a supplemental appropriations bill to pay Department of Corrections expenses now under consideration. Additionally, legislation that contains supplemental appropriations for schools, agriculture and other items vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf are also subject of discussion. However, returning to the budget framework looks unlikely at this time.

What you may not know about Commonwealth finances is that significant corporate tax breaks have dramatically reduced revenue for the state. Over the past several years the repeal of the Capital Stock and Franchise tax has cut corporate tax revenue significantly. This year alone there are $714 million in corporate tax breaks. If these breaks were not put into place, investments in education, job creation and restoration of human services funds would be possible.

Pennsylvania like a few other states cut corporate revenue without a plan for covering expenses. Now Governor Wolf will present his 2016-17 Fiscal Year budget on Tuesday February 9 with a growing revenue gap. Presenting a 2016-17 spending plan with the expanding revenue gap and no new taxes can only be achieved with gimmicks. No governor has faced this kind of dilemma in modern Pennsylvania history.

I continue to support Governor Wolf in the mission to fund the schools, restore human services cuts, invest in job creation and find the revenue to move the state forward.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

 
January 25, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor:

Without a full state budget, my office did not have the technology to send out Budget Watch updates for the past three weeks. Our eblast technology has now been restored, but our state’s budget is still broken. Funding for school districts and corrections are less than half of what is needed. Investments in job creation and human services are woefully inadequate.

mathIn order to get to a responsible budget for this year, we are challenged by a combination of House GOP math, the upcoming elections and a committed Governor. First, House GOP math produced what they call a balanced budget. That budget includes $30.2 billion in spending and $29.7 billion in revenue. Obviously, these two numbers are not equal. Revenue is short by $500 million. However, under the principles of House GOP math, the budget is balanced, and the House GOP is committed to it.

Second, legislators don’t want to raise taxes to pay for the government at a time close to an election. Legislators fear losing elections. Raising taxes is a threat to re-election. The primary elections are on April 26, 2016. It may be that GOP math, and the refusal to raise taxes to cover at least $500 million, is based on primary election calculations and not on math for the people.

Third, the Governor does not accept irresponsible GOP math. In addition, the Governor is not willing to allow the state to continue to go backward without necessary re-investments in schools, jobs and human services. Therein lies the gridlock.

At the same time, in two weeks the budget for 2016 will be presented by the Governor. The 2015 budget should be resolved before the 2016 budget negotiations begin.

It is organized Pennsylvanians who have the power to fix the House GOP’s broken math. Citizens must raise their voices for a responsible budget in order to break the gridlock.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

 
 
January 4, 2016
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor:

Happy New Year!
Governor Wolf announced last week that he thought the GOP budget was “garbage” and that emergency funding of government services was required. He, along with Standards and Poors, concluded that the GOP budget creates a $2.5 billion budget gap, a.k.a. deficit. That’s $500 million now and $2 billion in six months. The GOP budget would continue to underfund education, job creation initiatives, and human services to protect the most vulnerable. There’s the garbage.

Governor Wolf Rejects Republican Plan to Cut Education; Releases Emergency Funding :: December 29, 2015
Governor Wolf Rejects Republican Plan to Cut Education; Releases Emergency Funding

On the other hand, he recognized the need for emergency funding for school districts, corrections, state universities, troopers and courts, among other activities of state government. Schools districts and corrections received only six months of funding, however.

Governor Wolf approved and vetoed parts of the GOP budget. He then urged the House and Senate to return to session to finish a responsible spending plan. GOP Senate leader Jake Corman stated his desire to do that. GOP House leaders continue to block all change. They say we can’t do modernization of our liquor and beer sales, nor deliver any public pension reform, increase investments in education, better support job creation initiatives, and improve the protection of our most vulnerable.

House Republicans also fail to fully pay for government services to the commonwealth. I fear they are taking the Enron approach to money and shifting obligations off the balance sheet to create the appearance of a balanced budget. They are so afraid of voting for modest sales or income tax increases that they will jeopardize the present and future of our commonwealth.

Governor Wolf has asked the citizens of Pennsylvania to contact their legislators to urge them to pass a responsible budget. I ask the same.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 
December 28, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

capitolLast week the PA House leadership refused to allow a vote on the governor’s budget when it was on the brink of adoption. Instead, the Senate passed a House budget that is very similar to the June GOP proposal that the governor vetoed. We will shortly find out if the governor vetoes this plan again.

I know that people are frustrated with this process. Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked, “Why don’t we have a budget?” My view is that many legislators fear a “tax vote,” which is a vote by legislators to raise income or sales taxes in Pennsylvania. Many legislators refuse to raise sales and income taxes to pay for 21st century schools. For them, keeping state taxes low for businesses and individuals is a top priority. No legislator wants to raise taxes. I want our children to have the best education.

A tax vote is necessary if we are to pay for schools, state troopers, parks, prisons, roads and bridges, nursing homes, and more that the public relies upon and helps our quality of life. Furthermore, as the state fails to pay its share for schools and imposes costs on schools, local school districts are forced to raise property taxes. They have and they will continue to do so. Keeping state taxes low drives up property taxes.

Where do we go from here? We begin 2016-2017 budget negotiations in February. Now is the time to recommit to the long-term fight for investments in our future with accountability

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood

State Senator
4th District

 
December 14, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

decemberReports are indicating that Pennsylvania may be experiencing the worst budget impasse in over fifty years. It is now mid-December with no final budget agreement. Last week, we learned that some Republican members of the House had broken away from the budget framework agreed to by Republican leadership and Governor Wolf. While the Senate passed budget legislation based on this framework last week, House Republican leadership has been holding closed-door meetings focused on a separate budget plan. Although there are reports of some progress in bringing House Republicans towards the budget framework passed by the Senate, the current status of our state budget remains without resolution.

As we near the end of the year, additional social service organizations and schools are facing the threat of closure due to lack of state funding. Some school districts say they may be unable to open their doors after the winter holidays if there is no budget in the new year. This week is critical for holding on to the budget framework that was agreed upon by state leadership.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

December 7, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

capitolThe Senate is voting on the budget compromise this week, beginning with spending and pensions that passed in the Senate today. I voted for the spending compromise, which includes historic funding restorations to education and renewed support for higher education, human services and job creation investments. I voted against the pension plan, which would increase risk for employee retirement too much. Budget compromise votes will continue throughout the week in the Senate. This budget compromise, like all budgets, will include some wins and some losses for our district.

Unfortunately, as the Senate begins voting on the budget, the House Republican caucus now appears split on supporting the compromise. Reports indicate that, at this late date, some Republican House members are crafting their own budget proposal that would provide less funding to schools, in exchange for no changes to liquor or pensions. It is unclear how many House Republicans may support this alternate plan, but it is not supported by the Governor or by the Senate.

The path forward for the commonwealth is approval of the budget compromise by the House. Then we can conclude what was due in June: the 2015-16 state budget. The budget compromise previously agreed upon by Governor Wolf and Republican leadership can break the impasse.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 

November 23, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

At the end of last month, when I joined community organizations urging the Senate to stay in Harrisburg until a budget agreement was reached, many leaders and pundits said “no, let leadership work out a deal on their own.” It is now nearing the end of November, and a key element of the budget agreement reached by leadership during recess has broken off because rank-and-file Republican members disagree with leadership. Many senators do not support a sales tax increase even with a property tax reduction.

What now? The Thanksgiving target is gone. Vulnerable Pennsylvanians are suffering with no state funding to schools and critical social services. In order to get a fair budget completed this year, I urge you to ask your friends and family across the state to contact their state legislators and demand a fair budget now.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

November 16, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbor,

You helped break the budget impasse. By spreading the word and making calls about the two-week recess, you held leadership accountable for producing results. Citizens across the state let Senate leadership know that a two-week recess without a budget agreement was unacceptable. Because of you, Republican leadership realized that an agreement had to be reached during the break to prove to the public that their choice to take a recess was not a complete failure. Your participation in governing broke the impasse. The recess ended with a tentative framework for a budget agreement.

Time to Raise the Min Wage
Read my op-ed featured today on Pennlive.com

The framework for a budget agreement that has been announced is a compromise, as are all budgets. On the one hand, we have a historic investment of $400 million in 21st century public education, including special education. We also have $1.4 billion in property tax cuts to make homeownership more affordable. On the other hand, the compromise framework includes a sales tax instead of an income tax, lets shale drillers off the hook with no severance tax, and does not call for raising the minimum wage. We would maintain our status as the only state with shale drilling that does not impose a severance tax on gas companies. At the same time, we would be increasing our sales tax to the second highest in the nation.

Under this compromise, Pennsylvania would remain the only state in our region with a minimum wage of just $7.25 per hour. Raising the minimum wage would not only lift families out of poverty and boost our economy, but it would also save Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $360 million this year. If Pennsylvania raises the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, over a million residents will receive a raise. Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Appropriations staff estimate that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would result in $130 million in additional sales and income tax revenue from bigger paychecks.

The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the Center for American Progress also estimate that Pennsylvania would save $231.5 million on Medicaid spending by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Due in part to recent Medicaid expansion, the federal government would be footing nearly all of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid bill with a $10.10 per hour minimum wage.

Between decreased public benefits spending and increased tax revenue, raising the wage would save Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $360 million. This boost to working families would help offset the increased sales tax that has been proposed as a part of the budget agreement. I encourage you to spread the word to your family and friends across the state and ask them to tell their state senators we need to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

November 9, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

chamberRepublican leadership and the Governor have indicated that budget negotiations may be leading closer to an agreement. The Governor’s office says that they can “see a light at the end of the tunnel.” On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Corman said that, “for the first time in a while, we seem to have a direction that we’re heading in together.”

This is positive news, but negotiations are not over. Pennsylvanians continue to be impacted by the impasse, which has now reached day 132. Last week, Montgomery County notified social service agencies that they will no longer be able to provide reimbursements for missing state funding. These agencies and organizations are now relying on limited reserves and lines of credit, and may have difficulty making payroll. If the budget impasse continues for significantly more time, some of these non-profits may be unable to provide critical services.

One week of Senate recess is complete and another week remains. Let’s hope a budget agreement can be reached in that time.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

November 9, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

Senator Haywood: Now is Not the Time for Recess
Senator Haywood: Now is Not the Time for Recess
Senator Haywood: Now is Not the Time for Recess

Last week, Senate Republicans voted to send the Senate home for a two week break. Senate Democrats said “no budget, no break,” and asked to keep the Senate in Harrisburg every day until a budget agreement is reached. The Republicans did not vote for this plan.

In retaliation for Senate Democrats proposing a vote to stay in Harrisburg, the Senate Republicans put a stopgap budget override up for a vote the next day. Senate Democrats voted against overriding Governor Wolf’s veto of the stopgap budget. We cannot approve a stopgap budget that cuts funding to schools and social services for a portion of the year – and could be extended for the entire year. The stopgap budget would cut child welfare funding by $130 million. It is long past time for an annual budget that restores funding to education and critical social services. Now is not the time for a makeshift budget with more cuts.

We are now more than 120 days past our budget deadline. During that time, Republican leadership has called the Senate to Harrisburg for little more than two weeks. I believe we must stay in Harrisburg until we reach a budget agreement that serves all Pennsylvanians. Republican senators have a different perspective. They said “let leadership get a budget agreement” while the Senate is at home. It’s time they do it.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 
October 26, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

Now is NOT the time for RecessLast week, I joined Center in the Park, Women Against Abuse and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging to stand against a two week recess proposed by Senate Republican leadership. With a majority in the Senate and House, Republican leadership sets the session calendar in Harrisburg. They are now proposing that we go home for two weeks – without a budget agreement.

The budget impasse, which began on 30 June, has reached day 118. The Pennsylvania Senate has only convened for 15 days during that time. My question is: why did Republican leadership send us home this summer? And why is the same leadership sending us home this fall? The Senate must stay in Harrisburg until a budget agreement is reached. When lives are at stake we cannot take a break.

If the Republicans approve the recess this week, we will not convene again until day 139 of the budget impasse on 16 November. Non-profits and schools are already struggling to make payroll and keep their doors open. Our most vulnerable neighbors – the elderly, children, and abused Pennsylvanians – are all at risk as the budget impasse continues. How can we take a break during this time?

Governor Wolf has proposed to restore funding to education and human services that have faced drastic cuts during the past four years and we must continue fighting for that. I urge you to let your family and friends across the state know that the Senate is planning to take a break. Ask them to call their state senator and make it clear: “No budget, no break.” By speaking out, we can increase the chances the senators stay in Harrisburg where they belong.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

October 19, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

On Friday, Moody’s Investors Services downgraded Pennsylvania’s credit outlook from stable to negative. Citing our state’s budget stalemate, Moody’s explained that the downgrade is directly related to Pennsylvania’s failure to address our structural deficit. Governor Wolf’s budget would respond to this failure by providing sustainable revenue.

creditThe Governor’s budget is built on basic business math. A modest income tax increase of 0.5% would generate recurring revenue to pay our state’s bills. When combined with an expanded property tax cut and rent rebate program, the average Pennsylvania family’s taxes would drop 13% even with the income tax increase. For example, a family with a household income of $50,000 would receive a $350 tax cut under the Governor’s plan. At the same time, increased income tax revenue would ensure our state can pay the bills not just this year, but in future years, too.

The one-time revenue gimmicks included in the past four years of Republican budgets have led to continuous credit downgrades. In fact, our state already has the third worst credit rating out of every state in the nation. Our low credit puts an unfair burden on ordinary people, who are paying higher taxes in the amount of $170 million each year as a result of higher interest rates. The smoke and mirrors of the Republican budget are a recipe for further tax hikes, including local property taxes.

Governor Wolf will not settle for short-term solutions to long-term problems. Moody’s credit downgrade – and our high interest rates – are a direct result of refusing to pay for our common good. The Governor’s plan will infuse our state with the revenue we need for a better future, while cutting taxes for middle-class and low-income families. Pennsylvania does not deserve anything less.

Furthermore, to my dismay, the legislature is not scheduled to be in session while the budget impasse persists. I am calling upon the legislature to remain in session until a budget agreement is reached. On this as well, Pennsylvania deserves no less.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

October 13, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

Last week, the House Republicans staged a legislative sham. The GOP asked state representatives to vote on Governor Wolf’s income and shale drilling revenue proposals – that is, how to raise money – without any vote on how the money would be spent. Few representatives took the leap of faith that this legislative sham required.

Consequences of PA's DeficitBecause of the Republican legislative sham, the House did not get the opportunity to vote for the Governor’s property tax cuts, or for restorations in funding for 21st Century schools and critical human services. Instead, Republicans voted to continue allowing shale drilling corporations to freeload off our commonwealth. They opted to continue the status quo of fiscal irresponsibility that is costing taxpayers $170 million per year already.

The Republicans set up this legislative sham because they don’t want to let the Governor win – but the Governor will win because history is on his side. In 1991, House Republicans initially voted down an income tax increase, but approved the increase as part of a final budget one month later. Twelve years later, in 2003, the House and Senate rejected an income tax increase in September, but approved the increase as part of the annual budget that December.

Not only does history support an income tax increase this year, twelve years after the last increase, but the people of Pennsylvania are also on Governor Wolf’s side. Our commonwealth’s citizens want 21st century schools and they want property tax cuts. They want a responsible budget with sustainable revenue. A small increase in our state’s personal income tax can make this vision a reality.

By voting against the Governor’s revenue proposals last week, House Republicans voted against the people of Pennsylvania – but this is not a defeat. If history repeats itself, the people will win this year.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

October 5, 2015
Budget_Watch

Dear Neighbors,

On Wednesday, the State House of Representatives has said it will vote on certain revenue proposals that are a part of Governor Wolf’s budget plan. The Governor has proposed an end to the smoke-and-mirrors budgeting of the past administration. Last year’s GOP budget included $2 billion in one-time and unsustainable revenue. Governor Wolf has proposed a new path: sustainable revenue to fund our schools and cut property taxes.

Fair ShareRepublican leadership will choose which of the Governor’s proposals to bring to a vote and which proposals to ignore. No matter which proposals Republicans put on the table for voting Wednesday, we know what’s at stake:

  • Restoring cuts to education funding to provide our children with 21st century schools
  • Cutting property taxes to make homeownership affordable, especially for the elderly
  • Ensuring that shale drilling corporations end their freeloader status in our commonwealth and pay their fair share

Wednesday may be a step forward for Pennsylvania, or it may leave our commonwealth in the same place. We can be sure of one thing, though: without new, sustainable revenue, Pennsylvania’s financial shape will only worsen. In fact, we may face another $1 billion cut to education and additional credit downgrades, which already cost taxpayers $170 million each year. It is time for our commonwealth to chart a new course, and Governor Wolf can lead us.

Dare to Care,

Art Haywood
State Senator
4th District

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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