HARRISBURG – State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, D-Phila., said recently the 2013-14 budget proposal submitted by Gov. Tom Corbett to a joint session of the General Assembly today appears to be a continuation of failed policies for the state.
Parker, who is chairwoman of the Philadelphia County Delegation and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said like the previous two years, Corbett is introducing a budget that puts the interests of wealthy corporations ahead of the needs of public education, people’s health and taxpayers.
“Like every year, the governor’s proposal is only the beginning of the months-long process of finalizing the state budget,” Parker said. “Unfortunately, we’re not off to a good start for Philadelphia or Pennsylvania. This budget does not look to the most reliable revenue to fund the items he is proposing, nor does it recognize the needs of our residents or the opportunities available to our state.”
Parker said she does not support Corbett’s plan to sell off state assets, like the Pennsylvania Lottery and liquor stores, in order to provide one-time and unreliable funding sources for public education and programs for senior citizens. She said the state must look to a continuing, long-term strategy for funding public schools and helping children achieve academic success.
“The governor’s budget proposal is filled with ‘if-then’ statements that appear to solve the problem but merely provide short-term gratification,” Parker said.
She also noted the importance of funding for institutions of higher education saying, “Flat funding is not good enough in a tough economy when enrollment is on the decline and students are struggling under the burden of student loan debt.”
She also said Corbett’s plan for transportation does not appear to provide enough funding to fix the state’s $4 billion transportation infrastructure problem, including mass transit.
Parker also said that while Corbett is proposing to fund some health-related programs, like critical care and services to people with intellectual and physical disabilities, he is rejecting a major initiative to help more Pennsylvanians receive affordable health care through the expansion of Medicaid, a component of federal health care reform.
“The federal government is prepared to fully fund this initiative as part of the Affordable Care Act for three years and significantly fund it in several subsequent years,” Parker said. “Governor Corbett is not only giving up the chance to help nearly a half a million more lower-income Pennsylvanians get the health care they need and deserve, he is throwing away the addition of tens of billions of dollars to Pennsylvania’s economy and the jobs that come with it.”
Parker said Corbett also failed to address job creation and gun violence in his budget address.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average at 7.9 percent. Parker said Pennsylvania also is one of only six states that saw its unemployment rate rise over the previous year, and it is among the bottom half of states in terms of unemployment, as 25 states now have unemployment rates below 7 percent.
“Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate continues to climb above the national average, but you wouldn’t know it from the governor’s rosy rhetoric about his job-creating efforts over the past two years,” Parker said. “Pennsylvania continues to lose jobs because of the governor’s failed policies. It’s no wonder he didn’t mention it.
“Job creation relies on sound policy for education, health care and transportation, among others. This budget misses that point,” she concluded.
Parker said she will continue to examine Corbett’s proposals and funding plans through the House Appropriations Committee budget hearings beginning on Feb. 19.