Letter to the Editor: 'Better Choices Coalition' Weighs in on Final State Budget
The Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition says the final budget takes a step toward reinvesting in people and communities, but leaves our most vulnerable citizens behind.
Stephen Drachler and Peg Dierkers, co-chairs of the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition, issued the following statement on the final 2012-13 budget:
The final budget restores some of the cuts proposed by the governor. We thank the legislators who advocated strongly on behalf of children, families and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. The budget also restores cuts to the state’s higher education system, which is good for the economy.
Despite the earnest efforts of those legislators, the budget falls short of meeting the commonwealth’s moral obligation to its most vulnerable residents. It eliminates the General Assistance Program, giving people with disabilities fewer places to turn. Cuts will make it more difficult for counties to deliver human services and for schools to educate our children – now and for years to come.
This budget also enacts a new business tax cut without any requirement that new jobs be created, and enacts new tax credits programs without accountability or transparency provisions that ensure the money is well spent. The budget leaves in place cuts to education that have diminished the quality of instruction in our poorest school districts and resulted in the loss of 14,000 jobs in 2011 with thousands more losses expected this year.
The governor and some lawmakers have made the claim that the budget does not raise taxes, but in reality this budget continues to shift costs to school districts and local governments, with the inevitable consequence of higher costs for local taxpayers. This is why 50 local government officials wrote to urge the Governor and General Assembly to fully fund services rather than cutting business taxes.
As the economy turns the corner, Pennsylvania will need new public investments to build a strong economy. While the budget takes a step toward that reinvestment, it leaves our most vulnerable citizens behind.
Better Choices for Pennsylvania is a coalition of more than 30 groups statewide that support a responsible and balanced approach to the state budget. Learn more at http://betterchoicesforpa.com.
Stephen Drachler is the Executive Director of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania; Peg Dierkers is Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Both are members of the Better Choices Coalition.