State Sen. Sean Wiley, of Millcreek, D-49th Dist., is weighing in on the state budget as the deadline nears for lawmakers to adopt the new fiscal-year spending plan.
Sean Wiley/ETN file photo
The budget must be approved by June 30 to meet that deadline.
Here’s what he has to say:
With only 17 days left to pass the 2013-2014 Pennsylvania budget, the debate is now well underway in Harrisburg. On Wednesday, the House approved its budget plan
(HB 1437) along party lines. Now, it comes over to the Senate for debate.
I stood with my colleagues earlier this month as we unveiled the Senate Democratic budget proposal. It is a reasonable and responsible alternative to the Governor’s proposal and the budget bill that came out of the House.
Our proposal focuses on much needed additional funding for public education, as well as opportunities for job creation.
Governor Corbett’s proposal provides approximately $6.5 billion for our public schools. The Senate Democratic proposal takes that a step further and adds more than $200 million to that total. In addition to that, our proposal includes $39 million in new funding for distressed school districts. If this funding makes it into the final approved budget, the Erie School District alone would benefit from the line item to the tune of $2.35 million dollars in addition to their operating budget.
We must fund education responsibly. We cannot let politics get in the way of a quality education for our children. Education has been cut drastically in the past several years, and now it’s time to make up for those cuts. Here in the 49th District, we’re seeing program cuts, teacher layoffs and other consequences of failing to properly fund public education.
As part of the budget debate, we have focused on putting together a comprehensive transportation plan that is not only imperative for public safety reasons, but will also improve our transportation infrastructure and create tens of thousands of family sustaining jobs.
The $2.5 billion transportation plan (SB1) would help repair our crumbling roads and bridges. It dedicates funding for PennDOT projects right here in Erie County. It would also dedicate a new funding stream for mass transit. But, one of the most important aspects of SB 1 for Erie County is the new $130 million set aside for a multi-modal fund. This particular line item would provide $8 million for ports in the Commonwealth. It also doubles the operating budget for our Port Authority. The Port of Erie is a major economic driver of this community and one of only two deep water ports in all of Pennsylvania, which is why we must continue to invest in it.
SB 1 passed through the Senate last week with bipartisan support. Now, it’s up to members of the House to see the numerous positive impacts this transportation plan will have on this Commonwealth and approve it as well.
Finally, it appears as though the discussion surrounding liquor privatization will also be a hot topic as we near the budget deadline.
HB 790 passed through the house earlier this year, and will now be debated in the Senate. It is still unclear as to whether or not there is support for this particular liquor privatization bill in the Senate.
I have said all along that I am not in favor of the privatization plan. I believe the dollars that are provided by the state stores are a sustainable source of revenue that we can’t afford to lose. I also believe privatizing the industry would result in significant job loss throughout the Commonwealth, not to mention jeopardize small businesses.
That being said, I do believe we can and should work to modernize the liquor industry here in the Commonwealth. I am one of many bipartisan co-sponsors on SB 800 which includes a beer reform package, permits direct shipment of wine, and focuses on customer convenience.
It is expected that Senator Chuck McIlhinney (R – Bucks) will introduce his version of a liquor plan early next week to be debated and put up for a vote.
These next 17 days are crucial to the future of Pennsylvania. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, long hours, debate and compromise, but I am hopeful we will come out of this with a spending plan that moves Pennsylvania forward.
Stay tuned for updates as we get closer to a 2013-2014 Pennsylvania budget.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (814) 453-2515.
– John Guerriero