FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: June 30, 2023
Contact: Kirstin Snow, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-510-9336
Harrisburg, PA – Marc Stier, executive director of the Pennsylvania Policy Center, today released the following statement after the Senate passed House Bill 611, a 2023–24 General Fund Budget, on a 29–21 party-line vote.
“The budget passed on a party-line vote by Senate Republicans is utterly unacceptable to the people of Pennsylvania. Its worst element is the inclusion of a $100 million down payment on a radical plan, sponsored by extremist billionaires like Betsy Devos and Jeffrey Yass, to destroy our public school system. That money is diverted from the $200 million the House added three weeks ago to the Level Up program, which helps the 108 least-well-funded school districts in the state. With this choice, and their rejection of the House plan to add $100 million to the Governor’s request for basic education funding and $50 million for special education, the Senate is appearing to ignore the Commonwealth Court’s demand that the state fix our unconstitutional system of funding our public schools.
There are other flaws in the Senate Republican budget plan:
· Apparently, it does not anticipate putting Pennsylvania on a path to a minimum wage of $15.
· It assumes that reductions in the Corporate Net income Tax will be accelerated without closing the loophole that allows 70% of the corporations that operate in the state, most of which are wealthy, multi-national businesses to pay zero dollars in taxes, even though they hire employees educated in taxpayer-funded schools and use the roads and bridges the people of Pennsylvania pay for.
· It provides less funding in multiple areas where the House Democrats boosted the Governor’s budget, including community colleges, the Keystone Communities program, grants to college students, child care services, and child care assistance.
· It provides no funds to the four state-related universities.
The one bright spot in the Senate Republican budget is that it funds job training programs at a higher amount than the Governor or House proposed. Investment in this area is critical to improving our economy, creating jobs, and helping working people do better. We hope that the expansion of these programs can secure bipartisan support in the future.
The state has ended the fiscal year with a $13 billion surplus. There is plenty of money to make a far greater down payment on meeting our moral responsibility to fund our public schools fully and fairly as the state’s constitution dictates, as well as to invest more in helping Pennsylvanians secure affordable child care and affordable post-secondary education. We think most Pennsylvanians will be disappointed by this failed budget.
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