Harrisburg – February 6, 2018 – State Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) released the following statement strongly supporting Governor Tom Wolf’s Budget Address for the 2018-19 fiscal year:
“I am proud to support the priorities contained in Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget. There is no better way to build for the future than by investing in our communities through education, decent pay and fair taxation.
The governor is correct in earmarking $225 million more to improve education in Pennsylvania. As he said during this morning’s budget address, “developing a workforce that can compete and win in the 21st-century economy is the single best way to help Pennsylvania businesses grow – and attract new businesses to our Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. For example, both in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties there are school districts who receive $13,000 for educating a student per year while others in nearby districts receive $22,000 in public education dollars. That’s patently unfair and reduces opportunities for students. Additionally, our state has the second highest student loan debt rate in the country — partly because we are funding our state universities at the same levels we did in 2001. In my district, young people and their families are burdened with high student loan debt. This makes investing in education a key strategy for Pennsylvania.
The governor also was correct in calling to raise the minimum wage to $12 now. Raising the minimum wage is the most immediate way to boost the Pennsylvania economy. Putting $9 billion of consumer spending into the economy from a $15 per hour minimum wage will boost business sales, spending, and jobs. It is also the moral thing to do. Hard working people deserve to be respected with decent wages, not poverty pay of $7.25 per hour, or even worse, a wage of $2.83 per hour for restaurant workers.
Finally, the governor is right on the call for a severance tax on natural gas drillers. We remain the only state in the nation with significant natural gas that allows drillers to be freeloaders on our resources. It is a crime that natural gas drillers still fail to pay a severance tax. Without the severance tax, individuals like you and me pay more. There is bipartisan support for a severance tax and I proposed a severance tax bill in 2015. This is the year to get it done.”