Why I voted 'NO' on 2019-20 state budget
Yesterday, I voted against House Bill 790, which is expected to become the General Appropriations Act for 2019-20 — the spending plan for the commonwealth in the coming fiscal year.
I believe strongly that a state budget is a set of priorities to move the commonwealth forward. For me, those priorities include putting our workers, our seniors, our children, our schools, our environment and our future first. It means looking out for those who work incredibly hard for very little and ensuring that we’re investing, not taking, from the agencies aimed at helping to combat climate change to ensure a healthy environmental and economic future for the commonwealth. It also means coming up with a plan to provide the revenue we need to put these things first. House Bill 790 does not do this.
- It doesn’t raise our outdated and woefully inadequate minimum wage — the lowest in the Northeast. A full-time employee working for minimum wage in the commonwealth earns less than the federal poverty level for a family of two. We can do better — we must. Raising the minimum wage could help more than a million Pennsylvanians, many of them women; create more than 6,000 jobs; and draw workers to our state. It’s a missed opportunity to do right by our workers and grow our economy.
- It doesn’t preserve General Assistance, which can mean the difference between being able to rent a room and being homeless. It’s a missed opportunity to make a small investment in the neediest among us — an investment that costs the taxpayer nothing. Here in Pennsylvania, we are a commonwealth, a community founded for the common good. Where is the public good in denying minimal assistance to our most vulnerable? Where is the leadership in that?
- And at a time of increasing weather disruption and violent storms, when it is imperative for our residents and our economy that we as a state step up to address climate change, this budget doesn’t invest in the Department of Environmental Protection or programs to deal with increased flooding and its effect on transportation, revenue and infrastructure. It puts our clean air and water at risk, potentially damaging lives and directly violating our constitution.
I am in Harrisburg to fight for the commonwealth and for the people within it. Budgets are opportunities to do what’s right. There’s simply not enough right about this one.
If you have any questions about the budget, my views on it or any state government-related matter, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.
Pennsylvania State Representative
Serving Cheltenham Township, Springfield Township and Jenkintown Borough