Harrisburg, June 28, 2011 — State Sen. Anthony H. Williams blasted today’s Senate passage of the Republican-concocted 2011-12 state budget as a partisan attack on education that shelters corporate interests.
“This was not a bipartisan approach to the budget as the governor promised when he was elected. This was a strategic plan to sequester a small group of Republican leaders behind closed doors with the governor to protect big business while causing pain and suffering in our schools and social programs,” Williams (D-Phila./Delaware) said. “We all — Democrats and Republicans — were elected to serve the people of Pennsylvania and so we all deserve a say in how we invest our limited resources. But because of the Republicans’ partisan tactics to withhold information from my Democratic colleagues and me, my constituents’ voices were not heard, and therefore, I voted against this budget.”
Williams said the biggest losers in the $27.15 billion spending plan are students, from kindergarten to college. Basic education was cut by $900 million and charter school reimbursement funds were eliminated. Community colleges face a 10 percent cut, while state colleges and state-related universities will see 18- and 19-percent cuts, respectively.
“The cuts to higher education and public education are a disgrace and serve only to hurt the future of this commonwealth,” Williams said. “That’s not how you stem the brain drain. That’s not how you win the future.”
Williams assailed the budget plan for excluding any form of a Marcellus Shale natural gas severance tax and a plan to close Pennsylvania’s gaping corporate tax loopholes.
“We need to take a holistic, long-ranging look at responsible drilling and how we can do that in Pennsylvania. A natural gas extraction tax could help pay for road rehabilitation, conservation programs, environmental protection programs and more,” Williams said. “Instead, the drilling industry is given free rein to drill without giving any type of payment back to the state. Between the gas drillers and the corporations that take advantage of the Delaware Loophole, this has become a state that protects corporate interests while families and children are forced to sacrifice.
“This budget is bad for Pennsylvania. It caters to the few while the majority suffers,” he said.