Senate and House Democrats offered their reaction to the Independent Fiscal Office latest revenue estimates showing a state deficit of $1.44 billion in FY 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Minority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said, "It should not be surprising to anyone who is paying attention that Pennsylvania has such a large budget deficit. This administration has done a poor job managing the state's finances and economy.
‘Last year, the Independent Fiscal office stated clearly that Pennsylvania had a structural budget deficit – that revenues were out of balance with expenditures and this administration has taken no positive action to fix that problem. That is a major factor in why we have a revenue gap of more than $1.5 billion that must be closed by June 30th.
"I have already offered a bill that would tax natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale at a rate of 5 percent. This responsible legislation would raise more than $700 million next year to help close our revenue gap. Senate Democrats previously offered a comprehensive plan that included $1.1 billion in revenue options, include expanding Medicaid, slowing corporate tax cuts, and modernizing our state liquor store system. These are all good options that would not require any broad-based tax increases and provide funding for key services.
"One thing is clear: we cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of middle class and working families so that the privileged few can continue to avoid paying their fair share. Irresponsible budget policies that cut aid to public school districts, reduced food stamp eligibility, refused access to affordable health care, and slashed county programs to assist the elderly, poor, and disabled have largely caused the budget problems we now face."
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) said, “No one should be surprised by the IFO’s final budget forecast, which states that Pennsylvania faces at least a $1.44 billion revenue shortfall. The Corbett administration delivered three straight budgets featuring massive corporate tax cuts that Pennsylvania could not afford, along with one-time funding gimmicks and account transfers.
“As a result, we are one of just a few states to face a serious budget deficit in 2014. Most other states had surplus funds to invest this year, rather than having to close a huge revenue gap once again.
“Unfortunately, it appears Gov. Corbett and many Republicans are intent on trying to close the budget hole they created with even more unsustainable gimmicks. This could result in a structural budget deficit for years in the future that dwarfs the problems we are facing now, with truly disastrous consequences for Pennsylvania schools, the economy and the middle class.“It’s time for Gov. Corbett and the Republicans who enabled each of his budgets to turn over a new leaf and begin to budget responsibly and govern responsibly. The next budget is due June 30 and there still is no real budget bill or even the sketchy framework of a proposal. The clock is ticking very fast.”