Reinvesting in Our Public Schools
I want to ensure that every child in Central Pennsylvania receives an opportunity for a quality education regardless of where he or she lives. The state needs to reinvest in public education and stop shifting the responsibility for paying for education to local communities, resulting in ever increasing property taxes for all of us. We need to:
Restore the $961 million cut from public education funding in last year’s state budget;
Create a new state funding formula that provides an adequate, equitable, and reliable source of state funding for our local schools to ensure basic educational opportunities for all children;
Oppose vouchers that give public money to unaccountable private and parochial schools;
Renew our state commitment to adequate levels of higher education funding; and
Fix flawed state funding formula that mandates local school districts pay charter school operators $3,000 per student more than it costs than to educate a child. This flawed formula costs PA taxpayers $365 million per year in excess payments.
Creating Family-Supporting Jobs through Smart Economic Development
Our nation is still experiencing the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, with more than 400,000 Pennsylvania residents out of work. You know someone who has lost a job, struggled to find work, or seen pay and benefits frozen or cut. It is time for us to seize this moment, put Pennsylvania citizens back to work, and through public-private partnerships and careful investment, lay the foundation for future economic growth. We need to:
Target state economic development dollars to existing cities and boroughs where we can get the maximum “bang for the buck” by using existing infrastructure;
Use development dollars to help existing “home grown” Pennsylvania companies grow with track records of creating family-supporting jobs, and to support public-private partnership to promote incubators to help foster Pennsylvania’s industries of the future;
Preserve our precious farmland, keep our farm economies strong, and help farmers to keep farming profitably; and
Rebuild our state’s crumbling infrastructure. Repairing our crumbling state infrastructure will put people to work, help us move goods more efficiently, protect our families and neighbors, and lay the foundation for future economic growth.
Fighting for Tax Fairness
When wealthy corporations don’t pay their fair share, the rest of us end up paying higher taxes. Fairness demands that we revise the state tax code to relieve the tax burden, especially skyrocketing property taxes that squeeze working families in our communities and people on fixed incomes. In the past, corporations paid significantly more of the cost for the public safety, infrastructure, and other essential services that they used—but increasingly they are paying less, and that has left the rest of us to pick up the tab.
We need to revise our state tax code to close the “Delaware Loophole” and other loopholes in the corporate tax laws that allowed the state’s most profitable corporations to pay little or no state taxes.
We must pass a severance fee on natural gas producers. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center estimates that our state has lost more than $11,000 per hour, or $300,000,000 over the last three years.1 That is money that could have helped fund our education and roads, and relieved the burden of local property taxes.
We need to reconsider the PA Legislature’s choice to use casino revenue to subsidize the PA Race Horse Development Fund. Last year the legislature voted to give $276 million in casino revenue to this privately-owned industry. Nearly seventy percent of that money is used to pay out larger purses to winning horses.
Protecting Vital, Cost-Effective Human Services Programs
With the current budget pressure, the governor and legislature continue proposing cuts to human service programs, job training programs, medical assistance, and food stamps as a way to balance the budget. Many people who receive these services are our friends and neighbors and older residents of the district. I will fight to protect these essential services. We must spend our public tax dollars wisely and demand careful oversight that prevents fraud or abuse. But at the same time, it is not right to abandon people who are struggling during these difficult times.
1 Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, (http://pennbpc.org/severance-tax-ticker).