State Senator Art Haywood made the following comments following a veto by Governor Tom Wolf of the 2015-16 state budget passed by Senate and House Republicans:
HARRISBURG, July 1, 2015: “With control of the Senate and the House, Republicans swiftly ensnared Pennsylvania in a last-minute budget trap. The Republican budget trap left no time for negotiation or compromise with the Governor or Democrats. Public discussion on the specifics of this $30 billion dollar budget, which affects us all, was extremely limited.
Governor Wolf freed the commonwealth from this trap by vetoing the last-minute Republican budget. Our state needs a balanced budget that allows Pennsylvanians to be independent. The Republican budget denies Pennsylvanians their independence by failing to raise the minimum wage, failing to reduce property taxes for the elderly and failing to properly fund our schools.
On the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a Pennsylvanian who works 40 hours a week still lives close to the poverty line, making less than $15,000 a year. Most individuals who rely on public assistance and food banks come from working families, according to the University of California, Berkeley and Feeding America. Governor Wolf’s budget raises the minimum wage, ensuring all working people have the opportunity to be self-sufficient. The Republican budget denies independence to low-wage workers by failing to raise the wage.
Residents across the commonwealth agree that property taxes in many neighborhoods have become unaffordable for the elderly. By lowering property taxes, the Governor will increase financial independence and stability by making homeownership more affordable and allowing more elderly Pennsylvanians to live independently in their own homes. The Republican budget denies independence to these homeowners by failing to reduce property taxes.
By restoring funding to public education, the Governor allows all children in Pennsylvania to have the opportunity to grow up and lead independent, productive lives. Because we have the worst record for funding poor schools in our entire country, many Pennsylvania children currently go to understaffed schools with few resources. By properly funding these schools, we can increase the chances that these children avoid dropping out, receive their diplomas, and become fully-employed, independent adults contributing to our commonwealth. The Republican budget denies our most vulnerable children their independence by failing to adequately fund their schools.
Specifically, the GOP budget does little to restore higher education cuts, and represents a $778,410 cut to Montgomery County Community College, a $144,518 cut to Abington School District, a $205,017 cut to Cheltenham Township School District, a $27,562 cut to Springfield Township School District and a $122,898,407 cut to Philadelphia School District as compared to Governor Wolf’s budget. The Republican budget is a failure to our children.
Don’t fall for the trap. Stand with our Governor as he works to protect the independence of Pennsylvanians and support our shared destiny.”
Contact: Melissa Ostroff