House Democrats call for action on Plan for PA
HARRISBURG, Dec. 6 – A group of House Democratic lawmakers today said it is time for legislators to move forward with their Plan for PA, a comprehensive policy strategy that offers a stark contrast to the failed legislative leadership and policies currently hindering the commonwealth.
Democratic state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro of Erie County, Leanne Krueger-Braneky of Delaware County, Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia/Delaware counties, Ed Gainey of Allegheny County, Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer of Lehigh County, Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia and others joined at a Capitol news conference to contrast the priorities in the House Democratic Plan for PA with the legislative agenda put up by the Republican majority in recent weeks.
“Putting people first means working for fair opportunities for all families,” said Bizzarro as he kicked off a morning Capitol news conference. “The majority Republicans have proven time and time again that they are incapable of leading and producing substantive policies that benefit all Pennsylvanians. While they prefer to continue to play hyper-partisan political games that are crippling our commonwealth, we intend to counter their incompetence with the Plan for PA and put Pennsylvanians back to work. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, wealthy, middle class or barely making it by, our Plan for PA delivers for you and your family, now, and for future generations to come.”
The House Democratic Plan for PA focuses on four principles:
A People First Plan for PA that protects the safety, health, financial security, and dignity and opportunity that every Pennsylvanian deserves, not just those at the top.
“Each day, I speak with countless neighbors in West and Southwest Philadelphia and they are tired of living paycheck to paycheck,” McClinton said. “As legislators, it is our duty to make sure that all Pennsylvanians are not only employed, but are financially secure. The Plan for PA allows us to find solutions to the complex problems residents face whether they live in Delaware County or Centre County.”
Schweyer agreed, noting the need to focus on the availability of health care and jobs in the health industry. “It all comes back to giving regular working people the chance they deserve,” he said. “When we invest in health care, we create jobs. When we make sure CHIP has the money it needs, we make sure kids get health care and parents get peace of mind. When people can afford to see their doctor, we’re not only investing in our local community, we’re saving taxpayers millions, because a $75 doctor visit is a lot cheaper than a $7,500 emergency room visit. And we’re keeping people on the job.”
A Jobs Plan for PA that attracts good jobs that support families, moves the economy forward, expands opportunities for working people, and protects the financial security of the middle class.
“Our Plan for PA is not a political strategy but a new and bold road map to prosperity,” Boyle said. “One that we Democrats believe should be embraced, enforced, and certainly not ignored.”
A Quality Schools Plan for PA that gives every child access to a safe school and a quality education, and allows adults to gain the skills and training they need to do the jobs businesses are looking to fill.
“Putting people first, in my mind, means that we fix our society,” Schlossberg said. “And the best and longest term way of doing this is fully funding education at all levels, from pre-K to college. This means that we have to expand the quantity and quality of our pre-K educational system. That we create amazing schools for the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to get ahead. And it means that we better fund our higher educational system, once the crown jewel of Pennsylvania, to ensure that every child has a chance to go to go to a college or technical school of their choice.”
Gainey said an essential priority of the Democrats’ plan is a sharp focus on education and workforce development and training, so state policy is better shaped to help people acquire the skills needed for in-demand jobs.
“If we’re going to improve wages, it starts with improving the quality of education,” said Gainey, noting the need to ensure all Pennsylvanians have an equal opportunity to prepare for jobs of the future.
A Fair Taxes Plan for PA that eases the tax burden on working people and homeowners, and prevents corporations and the wealthy from exploiting the middle class. Corporations and the wealthy should pay their fair share to support schools, public health and safety, and community resources.
“Unfair taxes in Pennsylvania mean that working families pay more while big businesses can pay less,” Krueger-Braneky said. “Since the day I got to Harrisburg, I’ve fought alongside my colleagues to pass a fair severance tax that finally makes drillers pay their fair share. But because these big businesses write lots of checks to bankroll political campaigns, most of the legislators here in the Capitol are not willing to hold them accountable. It is time for us to change that. When out-of-state companies pay expensive lobbyists to get out of paying their fair share, the rest of us are forced to make up the difference. No more.”
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said the Plan for PA represents the values shared by the majority of Pennsylvanians throughout the state -- in cities, suburban communities, small towns and rural areas alike – so the caucus is urging bipartisan work on the ideas and legislation presented.
“It’s our job in Harrisburg to put people first and support opportunities for all people and families, not just to focus on the special interests,” Dermody said. “That’s the work House Democrats believe the legislature should be doing, and that’s why we are urging our Republican colleagues to break free from the status quo and embrace the new way forward contained in our Plan for PA.”
More on the House Democrats' Plan for PA is available at http://plan4pa.pahouse.com.