Ciresi: Why I voted ‘no’ on PA state budget

HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – After voting against it, state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, issued the following statement in response to the House of Representatives passing the 2020-21 state budget by a 104-97 vote Friday evening in the Capitol: 

“Though I understand some had to vote for this budget, I felt it was my duty to vote against it for the following reasons: 

“First, this budget does not provide any additional relief for our small businesses and restaurants, even as COVID-19 positive case counts surge, hospitalizations rise, and residents are being asked to stay home as much as possible. The federal government gave us money for pandemic relief, and this budget diverts those funds instead of using them to help small businesses and restaurants when that relief remains very much necessary

“Our local businesses and restaurants cannot continue to survive on limited resources based on reduced activity, and for this budget to not include additional funds to help keep these businesses afloat is a travesty. 

“Secondly, this budget fails to invest in property tax relief and education. Taxpayers and school districts need our help right now, and this budget doesn't deliver that. As a former school board member, this has been a crucial issue for me since I was first elected in 2018, and the issue remains a top priority.

“Lastly, this fiscally irresponsible budget continues its reliance on one-time revenues and fund raids, missing out on opportunities to close big, corporate loopholes and enact a gas severance tax. We had the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and pass a sustainable budget that allowed us to invest in pandemic relief and our future, and this budget once again chooses not to do that.

“Our next legislative session officially begins in December and, while I am frustrated with this budget, I am motivated to continue fighting for small businesses, for workers, for taxpayers, for schools and educators, and for the people of this community and this state. We need to do better, and that's what I'll keep fighting for.”