Sep. 22, 2015

By Kurt A. Masser (R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland)

This week, my colleagues and I in the state House are moving an emergency funding plan to allocate resources to nonprofits and schools across the state so they can keep operating as normal. When it comes to this budget impasse, I have heard from many of you. Even though Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will veto such a measure, I need you to know why it is crucial that this emergency funding is allocated now.

Some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens are in jeopardy right now. School districts, human service providers, rape crisis centers, and many others have reported they are out of money. The individuals who benefit from the services these entities provide do not deserve to be negatively impacted as a result of this budget impasse. The emergency funding would ensure they receive the money, so school kids and rape victims aren’t being held hostage.

The measure, Senate Bill 1000, would fund the majority of its lines at a four-month funding level (33.3 percent of a full budget), retroactively to July 1. A few of the lines, including bond debt services, federal funds and special funds, would be fully funded, and PHEAA grants and the county child welfare appropriation would be at 50 percent. In total, the plan would spend $11 billion in state funds, and $24.3 billion in federal funds that pass through the budget.

The reality of the situation is, the taxpayers have paid the state, and we have the money to fund the line items. The Legislature has tried multiple times to release the money. Unfortunately, the governor has said no to every one of our attempts.

We NEED a budget, but my colleagues and I cannot fold to the governor’s request of billions more in taxes – apparently that is his definition of “a compromise.” We are trying to actually compromise in a fair manner; however, the governor has not taken a single tax increase off his wish list. He still wants more taxes from every PA employer, worker and resident, in addition to the list of new items he would like to tax, including everything from toilet paper to drug and alcohol counseling.

If the governor doesn’t believe these schools and centers need funding right away – he can explain to the people in those situations why he chose to veto the emergency funding plan passed by the General Assembly. I certainly hope that will not be the case.

Representative Kurt A. Masser
107th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives /