PBPC Urges Legislators to Embrace Bi-partisan Budget Framework

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PBPC Urges Legislators to Embrace Bi-partisan Budget Framework

Governor’s line-item veto is a necessary step toward that goal

December 29, 2015, Harrisburg, PA - In reaction to Governor Wolf’s veto of parts of HB1460, Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, released the following statement:

“Governor Wolf took a necessary step in vetoing parts of the inadequate budget sent to him last week by the General Assembly. We hope that his action will compel legislative leaders who are blocking a bi-partisan budget compromise to reconsider their short-sighted and misguided decision to derail that compromise, and give Pennsylvanians, and our children, seniors, the disabled, addicted and abused, a budget that represents a step forwards, not backwards.

While Gov. Wolf approved enough spending to keep our schools and social service agencies open, his partial veto also forces legislative leaders to think again about what kind of budget they want. Do they really want another budget that maintains deep cuts in classroom education funding, compromising our children’s future, and in life-saving services to those in need?

Legislative leaders before Christmas had a better alternative but made the wrong choice. The bi-partisan budget, SB1073, which passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority and was one roll call vote away from passing the House, is not perfect. But it would set us on the path to restore funding cuts enacted under Gov. Corbett in 2011-2012 that had devastating consequences for schools and social services. The budget sent to Gov. Wolf, HB1460, fails to restore sufficient funding. To make matters worse, that budget is unbalanced. Without additional revenues, we face further deep cuts in next year’s budget – which would unavoidably fall yet again on education and human services.

As we have documented in detail, SB1073, provides hundreds of millions million more for preK to 12 education than HB1460. Our most recent analysis, here, shows that the difference is $305 million. And it provides $94 million more for human services. These difference are critical. The bi-partisan budget would allow for the hiring of thousands of teachers as well as guidance counselors, nurses and specialist in science and technology, music and art. It would have a profound impact on the lives of many thousands of children.

The bi-partisan budget compromise is now blocked by the growing influence of an extremist view that rejects raising revenue for virtually any purpose. That ideology led to the devastating funding cuts in 2011-11, which stalled a decade of improving educational outcomes and our economic recovery. In 2014, the people of Pennsylvania rejected that extreme ideology in favor of a common sense. We urge the General Assembly to do so as well and enact the moderate, bi-partisan budget they came so close to passing last week.