BLOG: Get Caught Up on the Extremist Republican Budget (VIDEO)

By: Sophie Stone

January 03, 2016

In case you missed everything that has happened since Republican lawmakers reneged on the compromise budget agreement and left town for holiday vacation, we put together a quick play-by-play to get you up to speed. Watch the video, and then read the explainer below to get caught up.

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The Story.

For the first time in years, Pennsylvania had an opportunity to fund our schools and fix the structural deficit, but Republican leaders left the Capitol for a holiday vacation on December 23rd without passing the compromise budget agreement.

Instead, Republican extremists in the legislature pushed through an irresponsible budget that increases the deficit, cuts funding to schools by $95 million, and fails to fund Pennsylvania’s institutions of higher learning at all.

On December 29th, Governor Wolf announced he would be line-item vetoing the budget Republicans pushed through; the governor vetoed the Republican plan to cut education while also releasing emergency funds for key services — and called on the legislature to get back to work and finish the job on a real compromise budget.

Then, on December 30th, the Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency issued a warning that Pennsylvania’s fiscal challenges remain, surprising no one, and urged that the Republican legislature must act responsibly to balance Pennsylvania’s budget.

Also on December 30th, newspaper editorial boards across the state joined Governor Wolf in calling out Republican lawmakers for their unbalanced and half-baked plan to cut $95 million from education funding.

Wait..Back Up.

That’s right — the Republican budget once again underfunds education and uses gimmicks that will actually lead to a $95 million cut in funding for our schools.

We’ve seen what four years of disastrous budget cuts under Republican Tom Corbett has done to our children’s chances at a good education. There have been tens of thousands of educator layoffs, increases in class sizes, and massive program cuts.

Now, Republicans continue to refuse to adequately fund Pre-K through 12 education in Pennsylvania.

Moreover, the Republicans did not pass legislation to provide funding for Pennsylvania’s institutions of higher learning including Pitt, Penn State, Temple, Lincoln, and the Penn Vet School, leaving them completely without state funding.

How Did That Happen?

The Republicans who passed this sham budget that does not balance and explodes the deficit hoped that the people of Pennsylvania wouldn’t look at the details of their budget and recognize this cut.

It leaves unresolved the most pressing needs facing the government and the people it is supposed to serve: adequate education funding, property tax reform, public pension reform, economic development and job creation.
[The Times-Tribune, 12/30/15]

This year the Republican budget underfunds education while failing to fund over $305 million in school construction reimbursements.

Republicans propose to pay for school construction by issuing billions in debt. But because the Republican budget fails to take any meaningful steps to fix Pennsylvania’s structural budget deficit – which has already led to five credit downgrades – the commonwealth will be unable to responsibly issue debt to fund school construction.

This irresponsibility means that their marginal funding increase for education will be completely negated and will actually balloon our deficit.

What Next?

First Lady Frances Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians why we owe it to our state’s children to fund their education: it’s crucial to our children’s futures, but also our future as a state.

We need a budget that invests in our children’s future and creates a stable financial environment for our commonwealth so it can grow in the future. It’s time to stop the games and gimmicks.

That’s why earlier this week Governor Wolf vetoed the Republican’s plan to cut education funding while also releasing emergency funds.

Now, Governor Wolf is asking Republican leaders to get back to work and pass a fiscally responsible budget that reinvests in our classrooms.

Bottom Line. (TL;DR.)

There are many reasons why this budget is wrong for Pennsylvania, but the most important takeaway is that the Republican budget will lead to a $95 million cut to education funding. That’s why Governor Wolf vetoed the Republican’s plan to cut education funding while also releasing emergency funds. Governor Wolf is now calling on legislators to return to work immediately and pass a real budget for Pennsylvania.

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Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf

Watch Governor Wolf’s remarks on rejecting the Republican plan to cut education (and read the transcript of the remarks).

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