State College, Pa - The Green Party of Pennsylvania calls on the Republican-controlled state legislature and the Democratic Governor Tom Wolf to put aside politics and finally pass a fair and equitable state budget.
Overdue by almost six months, the lack of a state budget is causing food banks to go underfunded, schools to close, and domestic violence services to fail. KDKA political editor Jon Delano reports that School officials from both Greenville Area and Sharpsville School Districts in Mercer County, may not re-open the schools after the winter break. The money is just not there.
"Once again it is up to us to stand up and demand that right be done. The budget must be passed now!" said Neil Haagen, a Green Party member from Centre County.
As of last Wednesday, Reuters reported that "school districts across Pennsylvania have borrowed about $900 million altogether since July 1 to stay open because of the state's budget impasse," quoting State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
County Governments in Pennsylvania have exhausted their ability to front the tens of millions of dollars needed to manage promised services to our citizens.
"This is one of the most egregious examples of how the two major parties have failed us," said Hillary Kane, the Secretary of the Green Party of Pennsylvania. "We need new blood in Harrisburg to break this partisan gridlock. The lack of budget is causing real pain for real people across the state."
Lancaster Online reports that Chester County has spent $30 million of its own money to support human services but cannot continue to do so alone. It also added that Allegheny County has paid $10 million of its own money to cover part of the November bill of $35 million for human services. Luzerne County has agreed to borrow $20 million to cover these types of costs. Both Bucks and Chester Counties will be withholding real estate transfer taxes and court fees which normally are transferred to the state instead.
The Allentown Morning Call reported that a recent United Way survey tells that during this nearly 170 days there have been about 700 non-profit employees laid off with countless others working with no pay. Over 500 other employees lost benefits and approximately 300 will receive 30% cuts in pay.
"Poor and working people are bearing the brunt of the failure to sign a timely budget and will be made to suffer more if a regressive sales tax increase is included in the final deal", said Jay Sweeney, Chair of the Green Party of Pennsylvania.
Loans have been taken out to keep the House and Senate open and running – including the salaries of Senators, legislators and staff carry incremental interest rates- one such loan presently is at 3.25% interest and will climb to 4.25% as of January. The long-term cost to taxpayers is huge and will continue to grow.
The budget crisis will not ultimately benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania. It would have been better to have efficiently and effectively placed a fair, completed, budget before the Pennsylvania public nearly 170 days ago. This delay has netted the banks and capital providers a very heavy toll from the taxpayer in interest and fees placed on loans to support schools and local government services.
Haagen has this to add: "Be prepared to open your wallet, not to pay for the needs of your fellow citizens, but to pay the interest on the money borrowed to pay our legislators' salaries."
The Green Party of Pennsylvania is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. The Green Party of Pennsylvania stands for grassroots democracy, social justice, non violence and ecology.
Attention: News Editor
For Immediate Release
December 15, 2015
Jay Sweeney 570-587-3603
Hillary Kane 267-971-3559