Final Budget Floor Remarks
Representative Phyllis Mundy
June 29, 2011
· A budget is a list of priorities and this budget, negotiated among Senate and House Republicans, and Governor Corbett represents misplaced priorities. Priorities which place the corporate agenda far above the needs of the average Pennsylvanian.
· We have heard from speakers across the aisle that we must “tighten our belts” and pay our fair share. But this Republican budget only asks hard-working middle class families, students, the frail elderly among others to tighten their belts and sacrifice. But I simply cannot find any sacrifice being imposed on the biggest multi-national, multi-state corporations in this Commonwealth.
· This budget makes many short-sighted cuts that we will pay for many times over later on – the most glaring example is cuts made to education from early childhood through college.
· And some of the poorest school districts will suffer much more than other more wealthy districts. The cuts to school districts are not equitable. The distribution of cuts per student is targeted more heavily toward poor school districts, and that’s a fact. A glaring example is the contrast between the Hazleton School District which has a poverty concentration of 60% and faces a per pupil cut of $438 per student while the more wealthy North Allegheny School District, represented by the Majority Leader, with a poverty concentration of 4.3% faces only a $97 per student cut.
· 75% of state prison inmates have not completed high school. And yet this budget thoughtlessly cuts education funding while increasing state funding for prisons. Well you will need those prisons, because this shortsighted budget will result in more of our at risk youth ending up there.
· This budget means higher local property taxes and extensive job loss in both the public and private sector. School employees are being laid off right now.
· It means pain and suffering for so many of our vulnerable citizens who rely on state funded programs to do for them what they cannot do for themselves.
· This budget is pennywise and pound-foolish because it does not use our dollars wisely to prevent problems. It eliminates funding for flood control projects. This line item is critical in my district to prevent flooding which as recently as 2006 caused enormous damage and cost to homes, businesses and municipalities.
The Republican Appropriations Chairman is fond of saying that we Democratic members had the opportunity to offer amendments and we didn’t. Well, we didn’t because House rules require that amendments offered on the Floor or in Appropriations take money from one line item and put in ours. We Democratic members take a different approach.
· These painful cuts could be easily restored using a number of different options. We could use the more than six hundred million dollars we have collected from taxpayers and that we have sitting in the bank as we speak. Failure to use all of our existing revenue to alleviate the pain in this budget, is the equivalent of telling your starving child that, yes dear, I know you are starving. And I have milk and cereal. But we may need it next year and so I will just have to let you starve.
· In addition to using the surplus, we could do what the vast majority of Pennsylvanians want us to do, and tax big oil and gas who are drilling the Marcellus Shale. There are many other suggestions for additional revenue that are widely supported by average Pennsylvanians, but you said no.
· We could do much better than this. We should do much better than this for our families, our vulnerable citizens. Until we do much better than this, I must vote no.