FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Hanna
Hanna: House GOP budget plan 'irresponsible'
HARRISBURG, May 18 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, said the budget proposal released last week by Republicans in the state House is irresponsible and unfair to working middle-class families in Pennsylvania.
Hanna said it is irresponsible of both Gov. Corbett and the House Republicans to ignore $1 billion in surplus tax revenues, which could be used to restore funding to public schools, public universities, health care and human services programs.
"We don't need a so-called 'rainy day fund' when it's pouring in Pennsylvania right now with our students, seniors and disabled being threatened with devastating funding cuts," Hanna said. "The wiser choice would be to use this surplus to restore funding for education and human services."
The Revenue Department reported recently that through 10 months of the current fiscal year, the state has collected $506 million more than the original estimate, compared to Gov. Corbett's estimated year-end figure of $78 million.
Hanna said not only is that $506 million available for use in the budget now being prepared, but the increase in revenue collection this year establishes a higher base to use in projecting state revenue for the next budget year. In effect, the "unexpected" revenue that comes in this year becomes "expected" revenue for next year.
"However, despite half a billion dollars of extra revenue this year, which will grow to more than $1 billion in next year's budget, it would seem that Republicans have no intention of restoring the many vital services they and the governor have proposed cutting," Hanna said. "The House Republican plan touts a $470 million 'savings' by reducing the Department of Public Welfare appropriation and in turn restoring $243 million in pre K-12 state education funding and $377 million in higher education funding slashed by the governor.
"However, this is little more than a shell game, filled with false choices: Do we choose to hurt kids in public schools or seniors in nursing homes? Do we choose to hurt college students or single mothers? Do we choose to cut teaching jobs or nursing home jobs? Either way, under the Republican plan, working middle-class families lose," he added.
Hanna said the Republican plan still approves 83 percent of the governor's cuts to basic education and would have catastrophic consequences. He said it would force many school districts to eliminate programs, classes and activities, limiting the educational opportunities available to Pennsylvania children in public schools. He also said it would force local property tax increases across the state, placing even more of a burden on middle-class families and retirees who are struggling to make ends meet.
"Although the House Republicans' amendment to the governor's plan moves in the right direction, it is a long way from being a solution we can all live with," Hanna said. "The plan would merely restore some – not all – education funding by taking a half billion dollars from health-care programs for seniors, the disabled and severely ill."