Kenyatta blasts 2021-22 budget as a failure to Pennsylvanians in crisis

HARRISBURG, Nov. 30 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta lambasted the completed fiscal-year budget that passed the full House Friday evening, calling it an absolute failure because it completely squanders the one-time $1.33 billion in CARES Act funding by using it for recurring state government expenses, instead of to help Pennsylvanians in crisis.

“In the wake of fatal pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 10,000 Pennsylvanians and decimated our economy, the majority party in the legislature misused vital funding from the CARES Act that was intended by Congress to reduce the burdens that resulted from COVID-19’s impact to pad holes in our budget,” said Kenyatta, D-Phila. “This budget is a disgrace, as it prioritizes state government over the needs of people across our commonwealth.”

This type of budgeting, Kenyatta said, is unpragmatic for several reasons because it frivolously uses one-time funding for recurring costs.

 “What happens next year when there are no billions of dollars in federal funding to haphazardly use to satisfy these debts?” he posed. “This limited funding was the only window of opportunity to target critical areas that were most impacted during this public health and economic crisis, such as child care, healthcare providers and first responders, veterans, one of our state’s largest workforce -- the restaurant industry, rent and mortgage relief, and small businesses. Now we’re forced to anxiously wait for the blowback as these individuals that were struggling to stay float go under because those who were supposed to protect them squandered their only lifeline.”

Kenyatta pointed to the list of revenue opportunities that House Democrats proposed through the years that would have generated at least $1 billion dollars annually to close the budget gaps, but each proposal was universally panned by House Republicans:

    • Severance tax on natural gas drilling: $300-$400 million per year.
    • Adult use cannabis: $581 million per year.
    • Raising the minimum wage: $133 million per year.

“Year after year, records that predate my time in the House show that Democrats have proposed sound measures that would have kept our state government out of the red, ultimately avoiding senseless moves like this,” Kenyatta said. “And each time, House Republicans played partisan politics instead of doing what was right by the people of this state!”