No More Games. Fund the PA Budget.
In July, the General Assembly enacted an austere budget of about $32 billion. It increased spending very little over last year but used savings in many areas to direct more money to education, as well as to intellectual disabilities services, mental health services including opioid treatment, and child care.
But two months later, the General Assembly has not enacted legislation to fully fund the expenditures appropriated this year or to pay off the deficit of $1.5 billion from last fiscal year.
The Senate passed a revenue bill that funds the budget. It is not perfect but it could be improved in the House. But House Speaker Mike Turzai, Majority Leader Dave Reed, and other extremists in the Republican caucus remain opposed to any tax increase. Instead, they are considering a dangerous and sketchy plan to raid special state funds to balance the budget.
The General Fund will be depleted by September 15. Without action by the General Assembly, credit agencies are likely to again lower debt ratings, and, because so much of the state budget consists of expenditures mandated by federal law or contractual obligations, Governor Wolf will be forced to cut discretionary spending 12%.
The would mean:
- Reducing education funding by roughly the same $1 billion cut by Governor Corbett in 2011. That cut led to a reduction of over 20,000 teachers, school librarians, and guidance counselors in the state, even after local property taxes were increased to mitigate some of the damage. Find out how much would be cut in your district here.
- Elimination of funding for Penn State, Pitt, Lincoln, and Temple Universities and reduction of funding for the PASSHE schools, leading to huge tuition increases at Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities.
- Sharp reductions to early childhood and special education programs. About 3,300 pre-school slots will be eliminated.
- Deep cuts in funding for human services for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health and substance abuse issues, and those who need child care or help finding a job or securing funds for more. Funding for critical access hospitals and burn centers in rural will be drastically cut.
- The Department of Environmental Protection will not be able to protect our air and water quality.
- Thousands of state workers could lose their jobs or be furloughed, crippling local economies especially in rural areas.
Pennsylvanians must demand action on the budget before the worst consequences of the budget crises are felt.