Comitta outlines opposition to state budget plan

HARRISBURG, June 27 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a state spending plan Tuesday which is expected to gain Senate approval and be sent to the governor’s desk today. State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, commented on her opposition to the final proposal:

“I can embrace many items that are part of this budget, notably the strong support for continued progress in educational funding," Comitta said. “The plan invests more money in pre-K programs and early childhood education, basic and special education, public universities like West Chester, Cheyney and Lincoln, community colleges and PHEAA.

“Even in Harrisburg where partisanship is so common, I’m glad to see there’s a bipartisan agreement that investing education is worthwhile for the future of Pennsylvania.

“But looking at the entire package on balance I cannot support it because of the damage it does to several crucial environmental funds that are supposed to be kept safe from raids like this. At a time when our clean air and water are at stake, this plan would pull millions of dollars from dedicated environmental funds to help fund the general costs of government operations.

“Given the constitutional right we have to a clean environment here in Pennsylvania, I think it’s very likely that diverting money from these special funds, including the Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Recycling Fund, will be found unconstitutional.

“By itself that was enough for me to vote no, but the bill was even less appealing because it did nothing to address the call by Governor Wolf and legislators of both parties to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, which has been stuck in place for more than a decade while every state around us requires workers to be paid more.

“While this budget is likely to become law, I will keep looking for ways to improve education, protect the environment and stand up for all working people as the House continues its work in the fall.”