Sturla, NEPA lawmakers call for good-faith negotiations to end budget stalemate, invest in education

SCRANTON, July 23— Following today’s news conference with Northeastern Pennsylvania legislators, House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following statement urging Republicans in the General Assembly to make progress toward a better Pennsylvania:

“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 followed over the past four years, which led to multiple credit downgrades, higher local property taxes, declining test scores, a decline from seventh to 50th in job creation and a built-in $1.5 billion structural deficit. The proposal Governor Tom Wolf vetoed would have bumped the deficit up to an estimated $3 billion by using one-time funding gimmicks and ‘adjustments’. They even shorted Social Security reimbursement payments to school districts. We need to put an end to the practices that have resulted in multiple credit downgrades and skyrocketing local taxes.

“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. Republicans said they wanted property tax relief and even passed a bill in the House – all while railing against Governor Wolf’s proposal, which was a revision of what they had proposed earlier.

“Republicans need to be willing to negotiate in good faith and make progress toward a better Pennsylvania. Overestimating revenues and delaying payments to school districts and other state vendors is not the way we should be balancing our state’s budget.

“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.”