CLEAR Coalition urges Governor Corbett to focus on real priorities

Jun 26, 2014, 10:22 ET from CLEAR Coalition

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Leaders of the CLEAR Coalition noted that the state budget plan passed by the House of Representatives today needs additional, long-term, sustainable revenues in order to begin reversing the massive state funding cuts Governor Corbett's past budgets have caused for public schools and communities across Pennsylvania.

CLEAR members noted that the House-passed budget relies too heavily on short-term, one-time budget gimmicks, limiting the ability of legislators to reverse cuts that Pennsylvanians increasingly oppose.

"Legislators can still make adjustments to this budget so that it relies less on short-term budget fixes and more on sustainable revenues," said Jerry Oleksiak, Vice President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. "Governor Corbett's tax breaks and funding cuts have dug deep holes in schools and communities across the state, and we need real revenues to fill them."

CLEAR members also encouraged Governor Corbett and legislators to focus on passing the state budget, and avoid distractions on other issues that are wasting legislators' time and postponing important budget decisions.

"The clock is ticking and instead of focusing on meeting real challenges that affect every single Pennsylvanian, the Governor refuses to engage in meaningful discussions about the state budget until his ideological demands are met," said David Fillman, Executive Director of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 13 and Chair of the CLEAR Coalition.

The budget deadline is four days away and the state confronts a $1.5 billion deficit – primarily because of the governor's failed fiscal policies of the past three years, choosing to cut corporate taxes by over $1.2 billion dollars while slashing funds for core services and programs.

"It's time for the governor to lead and put families first," said Kathy Jellison, President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 668. "Unfortunately, instead of focusing on these real priorities, the governor and his allies continue to waste precious time and energy on their ideological agenda and political distractions, rather than on what Pennsylvanians really care about like education and jobs."

"There are better choices – and a better way to truly building a stronger Pennsylvania for ALL Pennsylvanians.  The real priority for Pennsylvania should be enacting a sustainable budget that strengthens the middle class," said Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.  "Pennsylvanians expect and deserve results. It's time to enact a budget that provides funding for our schools, hospitals, and local communities – and that ensures corporations are paying their fair share."

The CLEAR Coalition has identified at least $2 billion in savings and new revenues to close the deficit.