FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. William Keller
Keller votes "NO" on state budget
HARRISBURG, July 6 – The following is a statement from state Rep. Bill Keller, D-Phila., regarding the enactment of Pennsylvania's 2011-12 budget.
"The Corbett-Republican state budget is barely a week old and the pain of it is already being felt in a big way in Philadelphia and across the state.
I voted "NO" on the budget bill (H.B. 1485) when it was put to lawmakers for a final vote before being signed by Governor Corbett on June 30.
This budget will cause serious harm to many public programs and services. I am truly alarmed by the little consideration it affords to average residents of this Commonwealth or to programs and people who depend on state aid. Instead, this budget slashes funding levels for education and health care and devastates program capacities.
This budget, with its billion-dollar cut to public education, cuts of nearly 20 percent to higher education and more than $650 million in cuts to human services, will plunge average citizens further into financial worry. Temple University has already announced a 9.9 percent tuition increase for 2011-12 because of it, while Philadelphia public schools are cutting teachers and programs.
Funding was eliminated for a popular home mortgage assistance program that for more than 30 years has offered modest, short-term loans to people who lose their jobs but pay the money back when they regain employment.
It didn’t have to be this way. Governor Corbett and the Republicans left most of a $785 million budget surplus unused. For them, it was a higher priority to sequester hundreds of millions of dollars in a questionable manner than to help fund public school classrooms, control tuition for thousands of Pennsylvania college students and provide needed aid to vulnerable citizens.
My Democratic colleagues and I worked hard to draw attention to the inequities presented in H.B. 1485. However, this budget was entirely decided by Governor Corbett and the Republican majority leaders in the House and Senate. We were given little to no opportunity to add amendments or participate in any real debate on this bill. In fact, Republican House leaders and the speaker of the House, who is charged with presiding over and maintaining decorum in the chamber, did all in their powers to suppress the voice of the Democratic minority. In an unprecedented move, the speaker went so far as to refuse to recognize the Democratic minority leader when he attempted to speak on behalf of our caucus.
I will be working in the coming days and months and throughout this legislative session on ways to mitigate the effects of the devastating cuts in this budget and to restore the House chamber to a true democracy, where your voice can be heard and represented. ”