HARRISBURG, OCTOBER 1, 2009 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) today chastised the leaders of the House and Senate for continuing to push forward their budget proposal when their members are calling for other solutions.
“We are hearing today that the budget deal may be falling apart because there are not enough votes to pass the agreement that was reached by the leaders of the House and Senate,” Fontana said. “To me, it’s just one more sign that our leaders need to start hearing, not just listening, to their members. Rank and file members in both the House and Senate continue to raise smart, responsible decisions that would allow us to protect the programs that help us on the road to recovery during this recession without further harming groups in our economy.”
The recent reaction from rank and file members to proposals to remove the exemption on admissions to cultural events and facilities has been met with great opposition. Members of the House Democrats stood up in clear opposition to plans to expand the state acreage available for lease for Marcellus Shale drilling. Many of those same individuals have criticized plans to allow the sales tax exemption to continue on cigars and smokeless tobacco. There are also numerous concerns that the increased tax on the small games of chance will make a difficult economy even worse for small non-profits.
Fontana said that, contrary to Governor Rendell’s recent comments, he and his colleagues have continuously offered over the past few months and weeks varying proposals to generate revenue that would allow the Commonwealth to address its deficit, while still ensuring revenues for programs including tourism, support of public libraries, grants to the arts, funding for the Small Business Development Centers, and other economic development programs.
“This entire budget process has been an embarrassment,” said Fontana. “The public has made it clear that they expect us to do our jobs and get this budget passed, yet our leaders keep giving us proposals that there is not support for – either in our caucus or our communities. This process has to change.”
“We need to make smart decisions and smart investments in Pennsylvania’s future,” Fontana said. “It is time to prioritize and make fiscally responsible cuts to the budget, but it is even more important that we do what we can to ensure no additional burden to the taxpayers.”