Governor Wolf has proposed a state budget that will turn around years of under-funding and bad policies, but special interests continue to stand in the way of progress
Across the state, our classrooms are over-crowded and communities are still struggling from massive funding cuts by the last administration that forced 20,000 teachers and staff out of schools and hiked local property taxes. But we can turn things around.
Governor Tom Wolf has proposed to use the revenue generated from a 5% drilling severance tax (estimated to be over $1 billion in 2016-17 alone) to restore sorely needed school funding. Currently, Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state operating without a severance tax.
These funds would be used to rebuild our investment in our children’s future, with:
- $507 million in new funding for local school districts;
- 14,000 new Pre-K slots statewide; and
- $162 million in savings from standardized payments to cyber charters.
It would also help make higher education more affordable, with
- $15 million for community colleges;
- $44 million for state system universities; and
- $83 million for state-related universities.
But while the Governor works to rebuild our state, the special interests who want to keep the status quo are working overtime.
That’s why local parents, taxpayers and community supporters in several communities are marching on local offices of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry — to urge them to stop standing in the way of a fair state budget.
Operating under the misnomer “Citizens to Protect PA Jobs,” the PA Chamber has launched an expensive advertising campaign against Governor Wolf’s proposed budget, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars across the state to protect natural PA gas drillers’ sweetheart tax deal. Gene Barr, the president and CEO, is also board chairman of Citizens to Protect PA Jobs and has had a decades long connection to the oil and gas industry.
“The Chamber of Business and Industry is doing all it can to scare people about the budget – but that’s because they are trying to protect the best interests of wealthy companies who refuse to pay their fair share.” said Diane Bryson, a Harrisburg parent, “For the sake of our kids, we need a fair budget that will re-invest in our schools and Governor Wolf’s proposal aims to do just that.”