March 09, 2011

PARA Statement on the Governor’s 2011-2012 Budget Proposal

PENNSYLVANIA ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS

319 Market Street, 3rd Floor ¨ Harrisburg, PA 17101¨ (717) 231-2866 ¨ www.pennretiredamericans.org

For Immediate Release

March 9th, 2011

Governor Corbett’s Budget Proposal Balances the Budgeton the Backs of Homeowners

Seniors Who are Struggling to Pay Property Taxes Will Have to Sell Their Homes 

Jean Friday, President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following statement on the Governor’s Budget Proposal:

“There has been a lot of talk recently about ‘shared sacrifice’ as States and the Federal Government try to reduce or eliminate their budget deficits.  Here in Pennsylvania, our commonwealth faces a budget deficit of $4.5 Billion.  Governor Corbett released his budget proposal on Tuesday, detailing how he wants to eliminate this deficit.  It’s clear that the Governor’s definition of ‘shared sacrifice’ is for the middle class to share all the sacrifice.

“The big highlights of the proposal are the 10% cut for K-12 Public Education, the 50% cut for Higher Education, as well as cuts to Environmental Protection, Conservation, Agriculture, Community & Economic Development and Labor & Industry.  Luckily for seniors, lottery funds take care of the Department of Aging’s programs, so they were spared the budget axe.  All of this is coming at the same time that the US House of Representatives is making cuts in the same areas – including Pell Grants, and Head Start!

“While many of these and other program cuts are disturbing, the cut that will impact seniors the most is the cut to basic education.  Seniors, who due to their fixed incomes are more sensitive to property tax increases than most other citizens, stand to lose big if these budget cuts to schools go through.  The very idea that local school districts can maintain decent class sizes and programs, while sustaining this massive budget cut, is just ridiculous.  School boards will be faced with the tough choice of raising property taxes or harming education for their community’s children.  Most boards will probably reach a solution that includes a bit of both.  Additionally, the Governor’s budget also cuts funding for some County programs, which will push those property tax bills up as well.  All in all, it’s bad news for seniors who want to stay in their homes.

“Of course, just as interesting as what’s in the budget proposal is what’s not.  Governor Corbett decided not to ask multi-million dollar out-of-state corporations to share in our sacrifice.  He continues to oppose a tax on gas drillers, similar to the one imposed by every other gas-producing state.  He also failed to address the corporate loopholes that help big companies shield their profits from PA taxes; loopholes that PA’s small businesses can’t take advantage of.  All in all, the Governor is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table from gas drillers and corporations that could be used to mitigate cuts to education and other important programs for Pennsylvanians.

“The Governor has made a political calculation here that he can pass a budget that forces local property taxes to go up, while still selling voters on the idea that he kept his ‘No Tax’ pledge.  I believe he is underestimating seniors, who are paying very close attention to their property tax bills and what is causing them to rise.  Seniors will figure out that he only fulfilled his ‘No Tax’ pledge by pushing other taxes up instead!

“In conclusion, this budget shows just how out-of-whack our Governor’s priorities are.  What does it say that he wants to increase spending on prisons, but decrease spending on economic development?  Shame on Governor Corbett for putting out-of-state corporations ahead of schoolchildren and seniors, corporate loopholes ahead of college students and their parents, and gas drillers ahead of protecting the environment.”

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans is a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing 300,000 senior activists and retired workers in Pennsylvania and has over 130 affiliated organizations throughout the state.  It is a state affiliate of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national grassroots organization representing 4 million retirees.

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