Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Statement on Governor Corbett's Budget Proposal

Feb 05, 2013, 15:56 ET from Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO today expressed serious concerns about major elements of the Governor's proposal to force a choice between cutting either public sector pensions or public education funding and his continued refusal to consider alternative funding sources including ending tax giveaways to corporations and closing corporate tax loopholes.

After cutting education and social service to the bone in his previous budgets, the Governor once again proposes privatizing one of Pennsylvania's most valuable public assets that each year provides over $500 million to the State Treasury and employs over 5,000 tax-paying Pennsylvania workers in family sustaining jobs.  We support efforts to modernize the current public Wine and Spirits Stores system, believing that what we have today better serves the public and the taxpayers, with the promise to provide additional revenues for many years to come.  Governor Corbett's proposal to tie increased education funding to increases in alcohol consumption is an exercise in absurdity.

The Governor's proposals today on public service workers and teachers' pensions do absolutely nothing to solve the problems as he has defined them to date.  For months the Governor has said our major pension problem is unfunded liability so why didn't he address it?  It appears his pension proposals are more about right-wing tea-party ideology than problem solving.  He has proposed solutions that add billions more to the state's credit card in a smoke and mirrors effort to balance his budget while kicking the can down the road for future governors' and school boards.

He is breaking the pension promise made to the workers who teach our children, care for our sick and elderly, maintain our roads and bridges and keep us safe.  Our nurses, social workers, caregivers and teachers have never broken their promise.  They have continued to contribute to their pension in every pay period.  Today the Governor wrongly proposed breaching a solemn commitment to our workers, asking them to help pay for the mistakes others have made, the same kind of mistake he has proposed making today.  Workers have already reduced their benefits under the Pension Reform Act of 2010.  One resolution to the problem is to let the 2010 pension reforms work.

We cannot be fooled by the false choices the Governor is offering.  We cannot trade retirement security for an effort to protect unnecessary corporate tax cuts, preserve the Delaware loophole and allow untaxed windfall profits from Marcellus Shale extraction.

While we do not agree with the Administration's false choices between either cutting pensions, or funding education, or dismantling a key public asset which can be modernized not privatized, we do look forward to working with the administration and the legislature in passing a fair budget for all that will not impoverish the middle class by transferring more wealth to Wall Street and big corporations.

SOURCE Pennsylvania AFL-CIO