On Wednesday, June 13, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a budget plan that fails to provide solutions that work for the challenges facing our state. The vote (108-92) was split down party lines, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.
Although it increases spending by 2.1% from last year, this budget lacks sufficient funding for our public schools. State education spending is currently well below the level that it was during the finals years of the Rendell Administration. If education continues to be underfunded, school districts will be forced to cut more staff and programs, and to raise property taxes.
This budget also neglects to expand Medicaid, leaving the federal money that would be available for the program on the table. Failing to expand Medicaid means failing to insure over half a million working Pennsylvanians, failing to create and support tens of thousands of jobs, and failing to stimulate the economy. This expansion could be adopted at very little cost to the state. Twenty-six (26) other states have opted-in for Medicaid expansion, including several with Republican governors, like New Jersey and Arizona.
Finally, this budget allows for the phase out of the Capitol Stock and Franchise tax, which will result in almost $100 million in lost revenue for our state. We cannot afford more tax cuts for business while our public schools struggle to keep programs and staff because of inadequate state funding.
The budget will go to the Senate for debate. Governor Corbett is putting the pressure on Senate Republicans to include the privatization of liquor stores, which eliminates more state revenue and costs thousands more jobs. There will probably be more amendments and the budget will most likely have to return to the House of Representatives for approval.
There is still time to reach out to your legislators and tell them to vote NO on any budget that underfunds education, gives tax cuts to big business, privatizes liquor stores, and fails to expand Medicaid.