Fitzgerald: Budget forgets middle class, most vulnerable citizens

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., issued the following statement regarding House passage of the state budget bill:

“I voted no on House Bill 790 because it doesn’t put all people first. For years, we have seen states that surround Pennsylvania increase the minimum wage – some at least twice -- since the last time it was increased here. It hasn’t changed in more than a decade, yet people continue to struggle to make ends meet.

“The people of Philadelphia deserve a living wage. The city has a poverty rate of 26%. If a person is making $7.25 an hour, which is a shame in the first place, their annual income is only $14,616 a year, and that’s before taxes! Our citizens should not work hard for 40 hours or more every week and still live below the poverty line. Pennsylvania is long-overdue to raise the minimum wage, yet this budget ignores that.

“This budget bill also forgets our most vulnerable citizens by eliminating the General Assistance fund. This money would have helped those Pennsylvanians who just need a little bit of help. It could have been for things that many of us take for granted: buying toiletries, diapers for babies, getting the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment.

“The $200 a month provided by the General Assistance fund would help victims of domestic abuse, residents with disabilities, our veterans, and people who are struggling with opioid addiction. It’s a shame that most of my colleagues don’t see it that way.

“I support saving money for the Rainy Day fund, but it should not come at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens. The voters of the 203rd Legislative District sent me to Harrisburg to be the voice for those people!

“House Bill 790 also overlooks crucial investments in fixing our roads, bridges, trains and buses.

“There are some positive aspects of this budget. It will provide more money for Pre-K and early childhood education programs, education for children with special needs, job training and safer schools. It’s a budget that is passed on-time with no tax increase, but it is not a budget that supports all of the citizens of Pennsylvania.”