Harrisburg – February 9, 2010 – Stressing that he will fight to hold the line on taxes and create good jobs, State Senator Wayne D. Fontana today said the governor’s $29 billion budget proposal is on the right track.

“Even though the state is currently facing a projected $525 million year-end deficit, we should be able to avert broad-based tax hikes by filling that gap with federal dollars,” Fontana said. “I will fight to get a responsible budget done on time that prioritizes economic development and job initiatives.”

Fontana stressed that while Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget calls for 4.1 percent spending increase, most of those additional dollars are earmarked for “fixed costs” such as the state’s growing prison population.

“Since 1985, Pennsylvania’s prison spending has increased tenfold,” Fontana said. “The prison population has doubled since former Gov. Tom Ridge’s special legislative session on crime in the 1990s. We need to take a good hard look at some of these sentencing mandates and find less expensive ways to reform non-violent offenders.”

Fontana praised Rendell’s proposals to bolster funding for basic education and crucial services that benefit senior citizens and children. He also commended the governor for proposing to end the so-called “Delaware loophole” and taking responsible preliminary steps to deal with future pension-related deficits that will not impact state budget coffers until after he leaves office.

“Today’s budget proposal is a good first step,” Fontana said. “Now it’s time for legislators to check our politics at the door, put our heads together, and pass a frugal, yet responsible budget on time this year.”

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