BLOG: Republican Budget Would Force Pennsylvania Off the Fiscal Cliff

For the third time, Republicans in the legislature are attempting to put an unbalanced budget that underfunds education on the governor’s desk. Once again, they are doing so without compromising or having a single conversation with the administration about the contents of the budget.

Instead of responsibly addressing Pennsylvania’s structural deficit, the Republican plan is filled with smoke and mirrors like the budgets they have passed over the past four years that have resulted in five credit downgrades. Just recently, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services cited Pennsylvania’s structural budget imbalance as the primary reason that the commonwealth’s AA-minus general obligation rating could be downgraded by the end of March.

This budget is out-of-balance by at least $290 million, would create a year end deficit of more than $1.6 billion in 2016-17, and would force Pennsylvania off a fiscal cliff. What does falling off the fiscal cliff mean?

Some schools would be forced to close and schools still open would be forced to absorb extra students.

The Republican budget would result in a $45 million overall cut to basic education putting an extreme strain on already struggling schools.

Extreme jump in property taxes.

The Republican budget’s cut to education would force school districts to raise property taxes on hardworking middle-class families and seniors in order to fund schools.

Government shutdown of services for seniors, mentally ill, drug addicted, and intellectually disabled.

The Republican budget underfunds mandated payments – like Medical Assistance – and fundamental government operations, along with funding for our counties, while fully restoring appropriations for the House and Senate by more than $50 million.

Fewer scholarships and higher tuition for college students.

The Republican budget forces Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency ( PHEAA) to transfer $40 million from their scholarship reserves back to the General Fund. This $40 million cut to PHEAA is part of funding that was already released to the agency. To achieve this cut, the Republicans are cutting PHEAA’s funding retroactively and asking them to send the commonwealth a check. Additionally, we will be forced to completely eliminate any funding for our state-related universities.

Instead of working toward a solution, this is simply more partisanship. It is time for the Republicans in the legislature to stop trying to score political points and finally compromise.

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