BLOG: Budget Address Supercut Video, Plus Seven Quotes You Should Know

By: Krystal Bonner, Digital Director

February 12, 2016

During his 2016-2017 budget speech on Tuesday, Governor Tom Wolf was honest with Pennsylvanians about the severity of the crisis facing our state and the critical decisions legislators must make to put us back on the right track. Watch this supercut of the governor’s address for the most important moments from the speech — and read on for the top seven quotes you should know.

1. “Someone in Harrisburg has to start telling the people of Pennsylvania the truth about the mess we’re in.”

Pennsylvania is in crisis — a crisis that threatens our future — but Republican leaders are in denial about our current situation. If the General Assembly does not approve a responsible plan to solve this crisis, every Pennsylvanian will suffer the consequences.

Our fiscal crisis didn’t appear from out of nowhere. This was no act of God. We are in a hole we dug ourselves, right here in Harrisburg. If you’re in business, and the numbers don’t add up, you can’t ignore the problem, or spin it, or wish it away. Pennsylvania businesses don’t have the luxury of pretending their problems don’t exist. Neither do Pennsylvania families sitting around the kitchen table trying to make ends meet. And the truth is, neither do we here in Harrisburg.

2. “Pennsylvania now faces a $2 billion budget deficit. That’s not a Democratic fact. And that’s not a Republican fact. It’s just a fact. It is a time bomb, ticking away, right now, even as I speak. If it explodes – if the people in this chamber – if you allow it to explode – then Pennsylvania will experience a fiscal catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen.”

The consequences of the General Assembly’s inaction on our fiscal crisis will be real, immediate, and severe. Nearly three-quarters of Pennsylvania homeowners will see their already-too-high property taxes skyrocket even further. Our education system, already threadbare after years of underfunding at the state level, will take a ruinous hit. We will lose nearly $200 million in services to Pennsylvania seniors, $180 million in assistance for people living with mental illness or intellectual disabilities, $11.5 million in funding for domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers, and 211,000 Pennsylvania children will lose child care.

3. “If we don’t have sustainable revenue sources in our budget, the result will be billions of dollars in new property tax hikes at the local level.”

While the Wolf Administration will always strive to tackle fraud and be as efficient as possible, even new harsh cuts – cuts that will harm single mothers, seniors on fixed incomes, and those who are down on their luck – will not solve our crisis. Any legislator who claims Pennsylvania can simply cut and cut our way out of this mess without also increasing revenue is just ignoring the math. They’re also ignoring history. Without sustainable revenue sources in the budget, local communities will have to hike property tax hikes by billions of dollars. So even as Pennsylvanians will pay more, they will get less from their state government. Far less. Pennsylvanians need to prepare for these consequences.

4. “Republicans and Democrats sitting in this chamber right now sat at a table with me and did the hard work to find common ground. We had a deal. And then the House Republican leaders walked away. Only in Harrisburg could that be seen as an acceptable way to do business.”

The compromise budget Governor Wolf worked out with members of the legislature last year included some of what the governor wanted – including a historic investment in our schools – but not everything. It included some of what Republicans wanted – including historic changes to our pension and liquor systems – but not everything. But most important of all, the compromise budget was balanced. It solved the financial problem. Passing it into law would defuse the fiscal time bomb and set Pennsylvania on a more sustainable course.

The compromise budget passed the Senate with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans, and had bipartisan support in the House. But then House Republican leaders just walked away from the table and went home for the holidays without holding that final vote. They still have not held that final vote. And because of that, we still don’t have a budget.

5. “For years, our leaders tried to balance our state budget on the backs of our children. When I took office, Pennsylvania ranked near the bottom of the country in the percentage of state-level K-12 investment. The burden of funding our schools therefore fell on our local communities. And that, in turn, meant huge spikes in property taxes for Pennsylvania homeowners.”

Pennsylvania has seen this play out over the last four years. When the previous administration cut $1 billion from education, we were left with tens of thousands of teachers laid off and crowded classrooms across most of our school districts. But even these huge cuts to education weren’t enough to balance the budget. Instead of finding a sustainable way to deal with the real deficit, Harrisburg chose to paper over the problem with a series of budgetary gimmicks and quick fixes — and the buck was passed to local communities who were forced to raise property taxes to pay for their schools and other services.

Since 2011, school districts have been forced to increase local property taxes by $1.2 billion — all because of Harrisburg’s irresponsibility. In the last year alone, 83 school districts increased property taxes above the index because Harrisburg didn’t produce a responsible budget, and another 175 school districts are contemplating additional tax increases this year — for the same reason. This tax shifting is not sustainable, and it will only continue to squeeze families and seniors if we do not stop passing the buck on to local communities.

6. “If you won’t take seriously your responsibility to the people of Pennsylvania – then find another job.”

Governor Wolf’s message to legislators is this: If you can’t agree to the budget reforms I’ve proposed, then help me find a sustainable alternative. Because public servants’ highest principle is the responsibility each of us has to the people of Pennsylvania. The people of Pennsylvania deserve leaders who are willing to work hard and sacrifice to build a better Commonwealth – because that’s what the people of Pennsylvania do every day to build a better life for their families.

Governor Wolf is ready to come to the table, negotiate, and compromise. This is not the time for denial, this is not the time for obstruction. This is the time for leaders to come together and honestly, and sincerely, take on the crisis we are facing.

7. “A bright future is still within our grasp.”

Governor Wolf ran for governor because he believes deeply in our Commonwealth; in our spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship; in our longstanding tradition of tackling our challenges and seizing our opportunities with boldness and courage; integrity and honesty; in our potential to build a future as bright and prosperous as our past.

Despite the crisis we are in, we can solve the problems facing us. The Legislature can send the previously agreed to compromise budget to Governor Wolf’s, and we can put Pennsylvania on more secure footing than it has been in years. It’s time for legislators in Harrisburg to get back to work and work with Governor Wolf to secure a brighter future for our state.

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