HARRISBURG – Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s budget address last week:
“After listening to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, I was both encouraged and disappointed. I thought he was right to focus on education funding. I agree that the required school age should be 6. I believe in funding PreK-12 but think parents should be able to choose between half-day or full-day kindergarten for their children. I also hope we are able to provide for technical education classes as early as middle school. Everyone needs to feel comfortable about developing these skills.
“I also agree with establishing internships and training programs with local companies to promote additional skills in youth.
“I agree that the justice system needs to be reviewed and some sentencing revised, as well as putting people who have served their time back into the workforce. I also agree that the opioid crisis in our state needs to get more attention and work programs need to be developed with local companies. Everyone needs to be given a chance to develop confidence, gain new skills, and work toward a good-paying job.
“I was disappointed that there was not any pension reform or property tax relief ideas mentioned in his message.
“I am also concerned that money alone will not solve our inter-city schools’ academic deficiencies. For example, I see studies that say roughly 40 percent of parents in Philadelphia school districts want their children to go to magnet schools (significantly more than the spots available) because they feel public schools won’t give their children the chances or education they need.
“Each year, additional monies are requested to meet budgeted spending. The main reason that we are able to supplement the budget is due to the strong revenues coming in from the growth of our state economy. Employment is high and close to full employment levels. This means: more money in our economy, less unemployment and welfare costs, greater tax revenues, better standards of living for our families, increased opportunities that our children will find employment here, and lower crime. So, I was glad to see no increases in income, sales or business taxes in this budget request. The last thing we need is to stop this economic growth.
“I did see a wish list of lots of ‘feel good’ projects that the governor mentioned, but with a billion dollar per year price tag to come from gas drilling.
“Last year the industry paid Pennsylvania $237 million in extraction taxes (impact fee). Add a severance tax and we kill the golden goose and thus all the positives I have mentioned above will disappear. We cannot go backward.
“It is my thought that we need to focus on this $34.1 billion budget spending request (2.8 percent over last year).
“Then, I feel we need to focus on property tax relief and pension reform. I do believe we can tackle these issues – we must tackle them.
“Pennsylvania is going strong and we need to keep it going that way.”
Representative Bob Brooks
54th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner
717.260.6437 (office), 717.497.8478 (cell)