Longietti votes against unbalanced gimmick budget that shortchanges school kids

HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Mark Longietti today voted against a budget bill crafted by Harrisburg Republican leaders because it perpetuates accounting gimmicks while shortchanging school kids.

“The proposed budget doesn’t add up, adds to the structural deficit, and fails to restore significant classroom funding for school kids, which was cut by hundreds of millions of dollars under the Corbett administration,” Longietti said.

Longietti said the budget includes $1 billion in gimmicks, such as borrowing $300 million without a plan to repay it, deferring $557 million in payments to future years, raiding special funds and making assumptions that will not hold water.

“Pushing off a payment that is due in this budget to a later year is no way to run the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Longietti said. “Citizens know they can’t pay 10 months of electric bills instead of 12, and government should know the same thing.”

Longietti also objected to plans to raid $53.8 million in special funds, including the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund.

“We cannot continue to raid economic development revolving loan funds and expect to grow jobs,” Longietti said.

At the same time, the proposed budget does very little to restore hundreds of millions of dollars cut from classrooms by the Corbett administration, Longietti said.

“Over the past four years, Pennsylvania mortgaged its future through education cuts that left our next generation behind,” the Mercer County Democrat said. “Kids suffered from larger class sizes, fewer course offerings and a lack of after-school tutoring and help. It is no wonder that student performance declined at the same time.”

Finally, Longietti pointed to the failure to adequately invest in quality Early Childhood Education. He noted that 76 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in Mercer County, or 1,897 children, lack access to high quality Pre-Kindergarten programs.

“Studies show that for every $1 we invest in quality early childhood education programs, taxpayers save between $7 and $17 in avoided costs and positive tax revenue,” Longietti said. “Simply put, it makes sense to give kids a good start, and help them become productive citizens instead of building more prison cells.”