HARRISBURG (November 20, 2020) – Senator Tim Kearney (D – Delaware/Chester) joined 17 other members of the Pennsylvania Senate in voting against the 2020-21 state budget. During his remarks on Friday evening, Kearney explained his decision to vote against the budget:
“I rise today to note that while we may have held up essential services and state government for another season with duct tape and WD-40, we should take no pleasure in MacGyvering a state budget by stealing funds that were meant for pandemic relief.
The CARES Act was passed to provide relief to those most affected by the deadly pandemic. In June, this body came together to do just that, and we had some great successes in providing relief to schools, to workers, to our healthcare system, to small businesses, and to the public’s health in general. Now we’re in the second wave with numbers that double by the day. We could respond but, to be very clear, the General Assembly’s desire to avoid the costs of borrowing are taking us down the path of no return and no relief.
No return for the small businesses and caterers that close this winter. No relief return for the people who lose jobs or are unable to return to work without childcare. Rather than relief, we chose to use CARES Act funds to pay for our own costs. Our house is on fire and we’re unwilling to call the fire department.
Make no mistake, we could not balance this budget by making further cuts to essential services. This budget already cuts almost half a billion dollars from DHS essential services for the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. In their greatest hour of need, we ought to be rising to the occasion, not throwing our hands up.
I am also greatly concerned by the decision to raid environmental funds. While this has a minimal effect on the overall budget, it has a great effect for our environmental programs. After a year when we depended on our parks and trails more than any time in our history, causing incredible strain on them, we need to strengthen our great green assets, not let them further deteriorate. How many times will the legislature avoid today’s costs by robbing future generations of clean air, clean water, and the gifts of public land that our predecessors gave us?
This budget fails to meet Pennsylvania’s needs in this dark hour. I urge my colleagues to recognize this, and to come to terms with how extraordinary the circumstances are. We are called to act in extraordinary ways. I hope that message sinks in with all my colleagues over the break, and that we’ll see change in attitude that recognizes the work that must be done.”