FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Ted Harhai
Corbett budget grim news for working families, says Harhai
HARRISBURG, March 8 – State Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Westmoreland/Fayette, said the budget address of Gov. Tom Corbett was a litany of how working families are going to get hammered by the cuts he will propose while big businesses get preferential treatment.
"Governor Corbett emphasized that it was going to be a budget in which everyone would 'share the load' in dealing with the revenue shortfall," said Harhai, "But in the Corbett budget, it's only working families and retirees who actually share, while big businesses don't give a share, they take one."
In his less than two months in office, Corbett has already given big corporations a $200 million tax break and is proposing still more in his budget.
Harhai said he was astounded at how the Republican leadership isn't connecting the dots.
"On the one hand, a Republican leader following the governor said the Corbett plan is 'a budget that not only worries about today’s citizens, but also worries about our kids and grandkids' and that the $5.2 billion it contains for basic education demonstrates 'We care about the kids.'
"Interestingly, what he skipped over was that the $5.2 billion is $550 million, or 9 percent, less than we're currently budgeting for basic education. If local residents don't like such cuts in their schools, the only recourse to the governor's cuts is an increase in their local property taxes."
The Corbett administration would further demonstrate 'we care about our kids,' by reducing funds for the state's 14 state-owned universities and state-related schools such as Pitt and Penn State by 50 percent.
"Tuitions will skyrocket," Harhai asserted. "The cost of college will be beyond the reach of many young Pennsylvanians and families at a time when the best weapon to be economically competitive for the future is education."
While the governor delivered the news about the cuts in funding, Harhai noted that revenue continues to slip away from the state because Pennsylvania does not yet have a severance tax on the harvest of Marcellus shale gas. Corbett's only commitment was to announce that he will form a committee to study the entire relationship between the gas exploration and extraction companies and the state, putting off any hope for a severance tax and its revenues even further.
Harhai emphasized that any fee should be reasonable, so as not to chase these companies out of the state.