Harrisburg, Pa. – February 3, 2021 – Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery/Bucks, Democratic Caucus Secretary) viewed Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address today. The Governor’s 2021-2022 budget proposal includes a strong emphasis on Pennsylvania’s post-COVID economic recovery, leveling the playing field for Pennsylvania’s working families and small businesses, and strengthening Pennsylvania’s education system, including special education, child care and Pre-K, and teacher recruitment and retention.
Senator Collett would like to share her reactions:
“I am glad to see that the Governor’s address prioritizes some of the issues my constituents and I are currently most focused on – including reviving Pennsylvania’s small businesses, leveling the playing field for working families, bringing more family-sustaining jobs to the Commonwealth and developing a workforce ready to step up and do them, identifying new sources of revenue to address the deficit, and strengthening Pennsylvania’s education system, in particular our child care and Pre-K programs.”
“It’s far past time for Pennsylvania to get off of so many “worst of” lists. Governor Wolf’s budget proposals will help us do this — by raising the minimum wage to lift families out of poverty and reduce reliance on public benefits; by raising the minimum teachers’ salary from the shameful level of $18,500/year; by lowering the corporate net income tax rate and closing loopholes that give breaks to multinational corporations while mom and pop shops pay the highest taxes in the nation; by assessing a commonsense severance tax on natural gas extraction like every other gas-producing state does; and by reforming basic education and charter school funding so that Pennsylvania’s property tax payers are no longer bearing the brunt of school funding.”
“I’m very glad to see Governor Wolf call for the immediate appropriation of $145 million in reserves to go towards relief for small businesses harmed by the COVID pandemic. In the 12th District, businesses — particularly customer-facing businesses like retailers, restaurants, bars, and recreational venues — are still suffering and need our ongoing support.“
“Closing the so-called Delaware Loophole is something I’ve been advocating for since I was a candidate. There is no rational reason why a large corporation like Wal-Mart or Amazon should pay zero in state taxes while a locally-owned and operated business pays one of the highest rates in the nation. Making these big corporations pay their fair share will increase revenue while giving small businesses a major break.”
“I’m encouraged to see Governor Wolf acknowledge that the professional licensing process in Pennsylvania needs major reforms and commit to investing in improving it. Nurses, physical therapists, teachers, child care workers, just to name a few. We need to make entry into these fields easier, not harder. As one of the few registered nurses in the legislature, not a week goes by where I don’t hear from a recent nursing school grad telling me that they have a job lined up but can’t start because the state board is holding things up. During COVID especially, I find this unacceptable.”
“The majority of my constituents and the majority of Pennsylvanians across the political spectrum support the decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana. Pennsylvania shouldn’t be left behind as more and more states legalize it and their farmers, their entrepreneurs, and their tax payers benefit. Pennsylvanians deserve those opportunities too. I support the Governor’s plan to devote a portion of any revenue from recreational marijuana sales to restorative justice efforts in communities that have faced disproportionate criminalization. If we are going to legalize recreational marijuana, we must also clear the records of those with low-level convictions to, among other things, eliminate barriers to employment and housing. I’m proud to be partnering with local organizations in my district to begin that process, using repurposed newspaper boxes to distribute pardon applications.”
“I have been urging Governor Wolf for months about the particular toll the COVID crisis is taking on child care providers and the corollary effect that is having on working women across the Commonwealth. I am glad to see that this proposed budget calls for an immediate increase in base rates for subsidized child care and a future investment of $87.17 million in federal funds. However, I would still like to see more steps taken to specifically address the losses that child care providers and child care workers have suffered and continue to suffer during the COVID crisis. Without a stable child care system, no other aspect of our economy can thrive.”
“Once again, Governor Wolf is calling on the legislature to reform the way public and charter schools are funded. Currently, Pennsylvania’s state share of education costs only makes up 38% of total funding, the sixth (6th) lowest in the nation. What that means is the lion’s share of education costs fall on our property tax payers, especially our seniors. And in districts where those property taxes don’t add up, our children also pay the price. School funding reform is something that will benefit all Pennsylvanians, immediately and for generations to come.”
“On behalf of Bucks and Montgomery Counties’ Departments of Health and all of our local partners, I’m thankful that Governor Wolf’s proposal includes an additional $8.3 million to fight the COVID virus. Folks in my district, particularly those who are high risk, are increasingly frustrated with the vaccine rollout and this funding will help our counties rise to the many challenges still ahead of them.”
Senator Collett is available for interview to further discuss the Governor’s proposed budget and its implications for the 12th District.