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HARRISBURG, February 7, 2017 — State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) who serves as Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2017-18 budget invests in jobs and working families and is a good fiscal blueprint to begin budget deliberations.

The $32.3 billion budget plan eliminates a $3 billion deficit while making $2 billion in budget cuts and a 1.8 percent increase in spending, all without a broad-based tax increase.

“The governor is in a difficult position of dealing a massive $3 billion deficit. His budget plan takes positive, creative steps in balancing the budget. He made tough choices, and we’ll have to continue to make tough choices, but today’s address represents a good start,” said Hughes “We must be responsible about addressing the deficit while investing in critical areas like job creation, education, and social services.

Republicans have had control of the legislature for years and have never taken such an approach to balancing the budget, instead relying on slash-and-burn policies that decimated education spending and social safety net programs, he said.

Hughes highlighted key investments in job creation and retention programs in the budget proposal, including a minimum wage increase.

“The governor’s plan places an important emphasis on the crucial issue of job creation and retention for working-class families, which must be a priority in Pennsylvania,” Hughes said. “Raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour will not only lift up low-wage workers and their families but also boost state revenues. The budget also includes investments in job training and apprenticeship grants, economic development grants, and an initiative to invest in the manufacturing industries — all of which will help our economy and our workforce.

“For too long, some corporations, especially the shale drilling companies, have not paid their fair share, so we need to take steps to make sure they are investing more and we must provide the means to help lift up working families and rebuild communities,” Hughes said. “I look forward to a robust discussion on the governor’s jobs initiatives in the budget so we can level the playing field for working families.”

The budget plan also calls for an additional $100 million in basic education, $75 million for high-quality early education and $25 million for special education.

“I support the governor’s continuing commitment to education. We must make investments in education, starting with preschool, to ensure that our children have all the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond,” Hughes said.

“We are faced with the challenging and complex task of ensuring that the state budget is balanced, while maintaining crucial programs and services, and today’s budget address is just the first step toward achieving those goals,” Hughes said. “My colleagues and I on the Senate Appropriations Committee will thoroughly examine all aspects of the governor’s budget plan during budget hearings in the coming weeks.”

Senate budget hearings begin Feb. 21.