SENATE DEMOCRATS RESPOND TO GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ADDRESS

By Matt Hess, Pennsylvania Legislative Services | February 5, 2019

 

Following Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus made themselves available to members of the media to give their reaction.

 

Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny): “I’m pleased with the governor’s budget address. I think [there are] a number of good initiatives we need to pursue. Certainly the fact that there won’t be any tax increases, that at least he’s recommending, bodes well. I think our economy is moving in the right direction and I think he’ll be able to close whatever revenue he might need by being more efficient and more thoughtful…The continued [investment] in workforce training and workforce development is extremely important. Our continuation of making [investments] in early learning is important to establish that foundation going forward. The big takeaways for me are the continued investment in education and the significant enhancement in workforce training and workforce development, apprenticeship programs and alike to position Pennsylvania for the future.”

 

Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia): “It was thoughtful, balanced, and helpful, but we could do more. We need more revenue and I think we have some opportunities around recreational marijuana that are not just conversation pieces, but should be a part of the negotiations as we proceed with the budget.”

 

Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne): “I think it was a celebration of Pennsylvania’s economy which continues to grow. Over 200,000 jobs created in the last two years, which has led to fiscal health. Revenues are up, corporate taxes and sales taxes are up, that means no new taxes. The governor announced very clearly [there are] no new taxes in this budget, but there are still critical investments in what is growing Pennsylvania’s economy, and that is the Pennsylvania worker. It’s investing in workforce skills, workforce development, investing in schools, investing in our colleges. I think it’s a good start to the budget season.”

 

Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia): “I think it’s a good start. It’s consistent with the previous budgets from the governor, which are steady and ensure progress forward in a number of areas. I think there are a number of us who would have liked to have seen a more robust investment in education and other spending priorities. I think there are a number of us that would have liked to have seen a more robust presentation around the natural gas severance tax. We’re subsidizing every other state in the country by not having a severance tax. I think a number of us are very pleased with the governor’s proposal for a minimum wage increase; it’s been since 2009 that workers have not gotten a wage increase and if you’re wait staff, it’s been since 1996. The budget also reflects the political reality that exists here with a Democratic governor and Republican control of the House and Senate. We’ll work through it and try to augment certain areas and try to minimize damage in any other areas.”

 

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