BLOG: As Our $2,000,000,000 Deficit Looms, We Need a Budget Pennsylvanians Can Be Proud Of

By: Governor Tom Wolf

March 24, 2016

Yesterday, I announced that I will let the Republican 2015-2016 budget become law. This budget underfunds important services that protect the safety and health of Pennsylvanians by another $238 million, and as a result of Republican smoke and mirrors, we believe it remains $290 million out of balance. But we have to move forward and address a looming 2016-2017 deficit of $2,000,000,000. Therefore, I am allowing the budget to become law without my signature.

My reasons for not signing this budget are clear: the math in this budget does not work. So I cannot in good conscience sign this bill. I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply does not add up.

It underfunds medical assistance payments, underfunds Corrections, and does not restore the funding for reimbursing schools for construction projects they have already undertaken — essential services Pennsylvanians need their government to provide.

But I’m letting the budget become law because it is time to move on and address these challenges in the 2016-2017 budget.

For the rest of this fiscal year, schools will stay open, counties will have funds, and seniors will have the help they need in getting their prescriptions.
But unless we pass a balanced budget in 2016-2017, we won’t have funds for these services next year.

We have to be honest with Pennsylvanians: We have not yet done our jobs to balance the budget with real, sustainable revenues.

Nothing has changed: the math in this budget does not work. Next fiscal year already has a $2,000,000,000 structural budget deficit that this budget does nothing to address.

If left unaddressed, we will fall off the fiscal cliff. There will be cuts to schools and human services, devastating credit downgrades that will cost taxpayers millions, and increases in property taxes for our senior citizens. And the 2015-2016 Republican budget has already moved us closer to the edge of this cliff.

Ratings agencies and the Independent Fiscal Office have all agreed that we face a massive structural deficit. For years and years, we’ve used tricks to fill this hole but there are no more in the bag for us to use.

In 2016-2017, we need a budget Pennsylvanians can be proud of — one that funds essential services, invests in education, eliminates the $2,000,000,000 deficit, and brings us back from the brink. That’s our job.

 

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