Says Republicans are waging war against poor people
HARRISBURG–State Rep. Ronald G. Waters and other members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus [PLBC] held a Capitol news conference today to speak out against the harmful state budget cuts that will go into effect when the General Assembly finishes voting on the budget package and the governor signs it.
“We’re here today to defend those who cannot defend themselves,” said Waters, PLBC chairman. “Those who struggle every day to put food on the table and clothes on their families’ backs. The Republican majority in the House and Senate and the Republican governor are waging a war against those who have no one else to fight for them – except for us.
“We stand here today to say one thing, in a unified voice: enough is enough.”
The legislators pointed out the number of Department of Public Welfare [DPW] cuts set in the state budget and their harm to thousands of Pennsylvanians, including:
· Child care programs cut 17.5 percent;
· The elimination of General Assistance Program;
· Stricter requirements and enforcement for Temporary Aid to Needy Families and food stamp recipients; and
· 10 percent overall cut in human services funding.
“The way you treat the weakest among you says a lot about the most powerful,” said Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, PLBC vice chairwoman. “What does it say about us if we treat these people with so much contempt? We are taking away their last hopes, and we have already taken away their voices with our Voter ID law. What is left to take next year?”
Brown also addressed other Republican attacks, including giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to big oil and gas companies, while continuing a $1 billion funding cut to public schools, causing local tax increases and thousands of job losses.
“We could stand here until the Fourth of July talking about the ways Governor Corbett and the Republican majorities have pulled back on our state’s fundamental obligations,” Waters said. “But our main focus today concerns what they have been doing to those who stand on the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Enough is enough.”
Also attending the news conference were Sens. LeAnna Washington and Shirley Kitchen, and Reps. Harold James, Gary Williams and Tony Payton.
Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams was not able to attend the event, but had the following to say about the cuts:
“Despite being able to make some real restoration to the governor’s earlier and drastic cuts to education, we were less successful in the same effort to save critical social service programs,” Williams said. “This is a budget that disproportionately hurts our most vulnerable neighbors, a reality I find incredibly heartbreaking. Especially in thinking of the many struggling mothers and their children as well as displaced men, all seeking to get back on their feet — and this budget yanks away their stepladder.”