Press Release: Eight things we want for the holidays in the final Pennsylvania budget

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Marc Stier, marcstier@stier.net

Eight things we want for the holidays in the final Pennsylvania budget

For details, read the brief online here

HARRISBURG, Pa.Dec. 2, 2015 – The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) called today for legislators to adopt a final budget “fit for the holidays.”

Dr. Marc Stier, director of PBPC said, “The agreed-upon $350 million increase in education funding represents an important step towards the budget Pennsylvania needs. But while the latest proposal to extend the sales tax to more services would raise needed revenues, it would also place too much of the burden on Pennsylvania’s lowest-income families.

"Even at the the 11th hour, lawmakers can achieve a better budget – one that reinvests in education and human services, raises adequate revenues in a fairer way, and strengthens families and communities.”

To attain these goals, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center calls on lawmakers to include the following eight proposals:

1. A sales-tax forgiveness credit that rebates sales taxes paid by Pennsylvania households that qualify for the state’s income-tax forgiveness program.

2. An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour plus automatic indexing to inflation.

3. Equitable distribution of education funding that restores funding to the low-income, high-poverty districts still suffering from deep cuts since 2011-12.

4. A severance tax on natural gas drillers.

5. Other revenue options that will help eliminate the structural budget deficit and reinvest in education including: a fix to the bank tax; an end to the smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette tax loophole; and a reduction in sales tax vendor discount (which over-reimburses retailers for collecting sales tax.)

6. No additional constraints on local districts’ ability to fund their schools adequately.

7. Fair pensions for future teachers, nurses, and other school and state employees.

8. State action to make retirement savings plans accessible to all private workers.

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