Comitta: Budget protects middle-class Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, applauded many of the initiatives put forth by Gov. Tom Wolf in his third budget address this morning, specifically signaling out how the proposed budget would help middle-class Pennsylvanians.

“This budget appears to do exactly what you would hope it does – balance the cost of government without harming the vital services we provide to Pennsylvanians, and in some cases, increases those services,” Comitta said. “In these hard times, the governor has put forth a budget without any broad-based tax increases but still manages to invest more than $200 million in schools and focus on job creation.

“Most people don’t know a ‘thorough and efficient’ education is constitutionally mandated by the state,” Comitta said. “As legislators, we have a constitutional responsibility to provide a public education that meets the needs of Pennsylvania. Today that means making our students ready for higher education or employment in the 21st century. Funding public education is vitally important to meeting this requirement.

“I’m pleased to hear the governor is committed to increasing state funding for public education from pre-k through higher education. Although property tax relief was not mentioned in the governor’s budget address today, I hope we can find a way to reduce property taxes, particularly for senior citizens, while ensuring our schools retain their ability to provide an excellent 21st century education.”

Wolf’s proposed budget includes $75 million for pre-K/Head Start, $100 million for basic education, $25 million for special education and a proposed 2 percent increase for the State System of Higher Education.

The budget also proposes a new program called Community HealthChoices, which is aimed at helping seniors receive the care they need in their community.

“Community HealthChoices is exactly what Pennsylvania needs right now,” Comitta said. “Not only is at-home treatment the trend in health care, but it’s a money-saving measure also. Plus, most importantly, it allows our seniors the comfort and dignity they want and deserve by allowing them to get the care they need within their community instead of at facilities.”

Comitta, a former small-business owner, also hailed the proposed streamlining of how small businesses interact with government.

“The proposed single point of contact to help small business cut through red tape and start creating jobs is key,” Comitta said. “As someone who has worked with small businesses for years, I can assure you that any amount of time saved is worth it and I applaud the governor for looking at ways to make life easier for our small-business owners.

“Pennsylvania has a structural deficit in the billions of dollars and that is not simply going away,” Comitta said. “This budget proposal is made up of smart ideas that will help balance our budget and shrink our deficit through consolidation of government services and agencies, while not impacting the services middle-class Pennsylvanians depend on.

“I look forward to continuing to study the budget proposal in depth and getting down to the necessary dialogue to ensure this proposal is passed by our June 30th deadline.”