Responsible state budget negotiations, education investment, property tax relief sought by Democrats

SCRANTON, July 23 – A group of local state lawmakers joined House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla Thursday morning at Scranton High School to call for responsible state budget negotiations that will lead to increased funding for education and lower property taxes.

State Reps. Marty Flynn and Sid Michaels Kavulich, both D-Lackawanna; Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne; and Sturla, D-Lancaster; said Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of the Republican budget was necessary because that spending plan failed to address core issues facing Pennsylvania, including a $3 billion structural budget deficit, a drastically underfunded school system, and rising property taxes for seniors and middle-class families.

“I stand with Governor Tom Wolf and House Democrats in fighting for a budget that puts Pennsylvania’s children first and says goodbye to the budgeting gimmicks of the past. We cannot continue down the same path that Republicans and former Governor Tom Corbett did,” Sturla said.

“Pennsylvanians made it clear that they valued education as a top priority and want a reasonable Marcellus Shale severance tax to fund our schools when they elected Governor Wolf.”

Sturla added, “It’s pretty simple: We want a balanced budget with no future structural deficit, funding for schools with revenue from a reasonable Marcellus Shale severance tax and property tax relief for hard-working, middle-class families.”

Wolf’s budget proposes an historic $1 billion investment in education at all levels, including $500 million for K-12 education.

“I believe the gas industry can and should stand with all Pennsylvanians to help build better schools, to help build better roads, to help build a better future for everyone. But, to do so, we need to do what every other state does and levy a fair, reasonable tax that the industry in every other state treats as just another cost of doing business,” Kavulich said.

“The people of Pennsylvania voted in November for change when they elected Governor Wolf and he is working to deliver those changes. The people are tired of the gimmicks and are looking for funding for education, lower property taxes, and making sure drillers pay their fair share. That’s exactly what the governor’s budget is doing; delivering to the people,” Pashinski said.

“The governor's budget provides the significant, statewide school property tax relief that middle-class families and senior citizens need. It's time for Republicans to come together with Democrats and Governor Wolf to address the property tax issue in a meaningful way,” Flynn said.

“And if we don't address the long-term challenges Pennsylvania faces while we have this opportunity, there won't be much of a future for any of us to fight for. It's time to move Pennsylvania in a new and better direction.”