from the inbox:
A bipartisan group of local officials from across Pennsylvania urged Gov. Corbett and lawmakers to reject pressure to enact new business tax cuts and instead restore funding to schools and county human services.
Commissioner Marseglia is one of 52 elected officials from both parties and all levels of local government to sign a letter to the governor urging him to restore budget cuts and delay tax cuts. The letter, delivered to the governor Friday and copied to state lawmakers, is just one of many actions taken by county, school and local officials in recent weeks rejecting deep cuts being considered in the budget.
In the letter, the local officials write that with state tax revenue recovering, priority should be given to restoring large cuts that will harm local government’s ability to educate children and deliver prevention and treatment services.
The letter also objects to planned tax cuts, noting that reducing revenue will make it that much more difficult for the commonwealth to meet its responsibilities, shifting more of the costs to local communities. Click here to read the full letter.
“If anyone in Pennsylvania looks at this budget and thinks their taxes are going to go down, they need to take a second look,” said Allegheny Controller Chelsa Wagner, who also signed the letter. “A tax cut in Harrisburg is a tax shift to local communities. Harrisburg has been doing it for years, and it has to stop.”
Many counties, municipalities and school districts, struggling to balance budgets cut by the state, have enacted efficiencies and cut jobs to save money over the past year.
“We’re asking Harrisburg to be as efficient and accountable as everyone else,” said Northampton County Executive John Stoffa, who signed the letter. “We cannot jeopardize opportunities for the next generation of Pennsylvania citizens. We must continue to fund schools and social services for the people of the Commonwealth.”
Gov. Corbett’s proposed budget would maintain more than a billion dollars in cuts to public schools and universities enacted last year and eliminate $100 million in funding for Accountability Block Grants that support full-day kindergarten. It also makes a 20 percent cut to several proven county services for children, people with developmental disabilities, people who are receiving treatment, and the homeless.
The Senate adopted a budget that restores some of the governor’s cuts but still preserves significant funding reductions to education and county human services and leaves money on the table by failing to close loopholes or delay planned business tax cuts.
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas, another signer. “It is unfair to ask our local residents to bear more responsibility for funding schools and social services. And it's ludicrous to hand out special tax breaks while cutting life-saving programs that are chronically underfunded to begin with.”
The Text of the Letter
June 1, 2012
Hon. Tom Corbett
Main Capitol Room 225
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Corbett:
As elected officials from across the state we write to express our grave concern about the proposed cuts to human services programs and to our local schools. With the state’s revenue picture improving, we urge you to support full restoration of funding, to preserve our ability to educate our children and to deliver preventive and treatment services to our most vulnerable constituents.
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, our communities have faced reductions in state funding, higher demand for services and declining local revenues. We have faced these challenges by reducing costs and streamlining service delivery, often making the difficult decision to reduce services, increase local taxes or both.
The proposed cuts will devastate carefully developed systems for addressing homelessness, mental health, addiction services and intellectual disabilities. They will jeopardize our ability to provide a high-quality education to every child. We cannot manage cuts of this magnitude through streamlining or efficiencies. Instead, counties will serve fewer individuals in prevention and treatment programs with the inevitable result that many will be treated in other, more costly systems. Schools will not be able to reach children who need extra support to succeed, and those children will struggle to become productive, successful adults. These outcomes are bad for the taxpayers and devastating for the individuals and their families.
While our counties and schools are bracing for these cuts, the Commonwealth continues to propose a variety of additional tax cuts in the FY 12/13 budget. Whatever the merit of the tax cuts may be, we have to question whether the timing for such tax cuts is appropriate. Every time a decision is made to reduce revenue, it makes it that much more difficult to address the myriad responsibilities the Commonwealth is now attempting to shift to the local level.
We are very concerned that the planned education and human services cuts continue a shift in costs and responsibility from the state to local governments. Asking local residents to bear this responsibility while enacting state level tax cuts is an unfair and unnecessary burden.
We value our partnership with the Commonwealth in educating our children and ensuring our most vulnerable citizens are able to access services that help them live lives of dignity and independence. We cannot keep our promise to these citizens with the resources the state plans to make available. We urge you to restore the proposed cuts to schools and human services and pledge to work with you to ensure that these services are delivered efficiently and accountably.
Tony Amadio Beaver County Commissioner
Brian Beader Mercer County Commissioner
Kathy Cozzone Chester County Commissioner
Ted Kopas Westmoreland County Commissioner
Craig Lehman Lancaster County Commissioner
Diane Marseglia Bucks County Commissioner
Dennis Nichols Beaver County Commissioner
Joe Spanik Beaver County Commissioner
John Stoffa County Executive, Northampton County
Chelsea Wagner Allegheny County Controller
Vincent Zapotosky Fayette County Commissioner
Borough, Township, & City
Sue Anderson Vice President, Penndel Borough Council
Det Ansinn President, Doylestown Borough Council
Don Berk Doylestown Borough
Craig Bowen Councilperson, Bristol Township
James Cunningham Supervisor, Northampton Township
John Curtaccio Supervisor, Brighton Township
Joe Davis Councilperson, Allentown
Ralph DiGuiseppe President, Bristol Borough Council
Robert Donchez Councilperson, Bethlehem
Joan Doyle Doylestown Borough
Brian Doyle Councilperson, Richlandtown Borough
Eric Evans Councilperson, Bethlehem
J. Richard Gray Lancaster City Mayor
Julio Guridy City Council President, Allentown
Barbara Heffelfinger Councilperson, Penndel Borough
Kevin Kelly Doylestown Borough
David Laustsen Doylestown Borough
Bob Lewis, Jr. President, Bristol Township Council
Amber Longhitano Councilperson, Bristol Township
Susan Madian Doylestown Borough
Dennis McCauley Doylestown Borough
Mark Piccirilli Supervisor, Brighton Township
Leo Plenski, Jr. Councilperson, Bristol Borough
Rick Pluta Councilperson, Bristol Township
Marlene Pray Doylestown Borough
Betty Rodriguez Councilperson, Bristol Borough
Dr. Kimberly Rose Treasurer, Northampton Township Board of Supervisors
Frank Rothermel Chairman, Northampton Township Board of Supervisors
Natalia Rudiak Councilperson, Pittsburgh
Lori Schreiber Councilperson, Abington Township
Daniel Shimshock Supervisor, German Township
Mike Smith President Pro-Tem, Penndel Borough Council
John Spiegelman Councilperson, Abington Township
Robyn Trunnell Vice President, Bristol Borough Council
Sandra Alercia Volcano Councilperson, Easton
Elnora 'Noni' West Doylestown Borough
Libby White Mayor, Doylestown Borough
Jeannette F. Maitin Abington School Board
Mark B. Miller Centennial School District School Board
Mary Jane Potena Paglione Bristol Borough School District School Board
Dr. Pat Volcano Jr. Easton Area School Board