Rep. Howard votes against uninspired, partisan budget

I voted against the 2019-20 state budget, forced on us by members in the majority whose fiscal conservatism goes to extremes that prevents compromises that could benefit most Pennsylvanians. 

I could not, in good faith, support a deal so insensitive to our most economically vulnerable citizens, blind to the environmental challenges arising from climate change and excessively generous to corporate interests.

Had we made progress in other areas – a deal to raise the minimum wage, funding to help remediate superfund sites like the Bishop Tube site in my own district,  a meaningful increase in education funding or an investment in developing renewable energy in the Commonwealth, for example – perhaps I could have found my way to a ‘yes’ vote.

As it stands, Republican leadership, with a political perspective not reflective of the voters in my district, asked for everything and gave nothing in return.

I went to Harrisburg to make a difference, and I plan on doing just that. This means making tough decisions and occasionally voting against the grain.

The package we were handed offers nothing of merit and takes away from our most vulnerable citizens.

The most notable element of shame in this budget is the termination of cash assistance, a small monthly stipend that fills a critical financial gap for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents. These are the people most in need of our help, and yet we cut them off without a second thought while letting big-money-making natural gas drillers off the tax hook.

This budget wrongly takes $10 million from the state’s Environmental Stewardship Fund while making no new investment in growing renewable energy, allows our roads and bridges to continue to erode. Furthermore, I believe we could have invested significantly more into public education to ensure the prosperity of this commonwealth for generations to come.

I regret that our work the past several months produced a budget I cannot support.

About Rep. Kristine Howard – Kristine Howard (D-Chester), a former child abuse investigator and director of a legal aid clinic, was elected state representative for the 167th Legislative District in November 2018. The district includes Charlestown, East Whiteland, Easttown, West Pikeland, West Whiteland, Willistown Townships, and Malvern Borough.