DeLissio responds to the governor’s proposed budget

HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – Commenting on the budget address, state Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., believes Gov. Tom Wolf’s approach to the 2017-18 state budget is responsible and different.

“As I have said at my monthly town hall meetings over the past several years, Pennsylvania must address its structural deficit and the governor’s budget proposal appears to make steps at doing so. The governor has put together a responsible approach to working to close the deficit, consolidate government and still manage to increase education funding and protect our most vulnerable citizens,” DeLissio said.

With an almost prescient degree of accuracy, DeLissio addressed a packed town hall on Jan. 28 to discuss the current state of the Pennsylvania budget, including the structural deficit. Dialogue with constituents included their ideas on how to reduce the size of the government and discussion on what programs, services and funding they were willing to see reduced in order to close the structural deficit.

With over 120 constituents in attendance from all corners of the 194th Legislative District, DeLissio fielded questions and comments on matters ranging from raising taxes (Personal Income Tax, sales, severance), privatization vs modernization of the state wine and spirit stores, pension reform, education funding, consolidating state agencies and reducing the size of the legislature.

“Much of my town hall‘s discussions were reflected in Tuesday’s budget address by the governor,” DeLissio said.

The governor’s proposal does not contain a broad-based tax increase, but still increases education funding, which continues to be a priority of the governor, along with increasing funds for the current opioid epidemic taking place in Pennsylvania.  

“I continue to advocate for equitable and sustainable education funding and I am pleased Governor Wolf continues to prioritize the needs of our students by providing the funds necessary for school districts to hire faculty and/or restore programs previously cut,” DeLissio said. “The proposed increases in funding from pre-k through basic education and to the State System of Higher Education will help strengthen our education system, which is integral to the continued success and progress of our future generation.”

The governor’s proposal contains $10 million to expand access of the life-saving medication Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement across the state, which will help save the lives of people overdosing on heroin or prescription drugs.

“The governor’s budget fully funds the coming year's pension obligations to avoid further debt, reduces waiting lists for intellectual disability services, and streamlines services by consolidation of health and corrections-related state agencies,” DeLissio said. “These savings and efficiencies are targeted at saving the state as much as $2.1 billion. A severance tax on natural drilling companies, requiring counties without local law enforcement to pay a fee for state police oversight, and raising the minimum wage are additional proposed revenue sources by the governor.

“This budget proposal will not eliminate the structural deficit in its entirety but contains real solutions to the very real problems facing Pennsylvania,” DeLissio said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we enter the upcoming budget hearings to learn the details behind the proposed budget.”