By AndreaSears

Keystone News Service

Pennsylvania needs new tax revenue to fund critical state programs, according to a new coalition launched this week. Pennsylvania’s Choice includes education, human-services and environmental groups.

Susan Spicka, director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania, said the group will be raising awareness across the state that the $2 billion deficit in the coming state budget is very real.

“Lawmakers are going to have to choose to responsibly raise revenue so that they can fund the things that matter in Pennsylvania,” she said, “or make some really brutal cuts to things that matter in our communities.”

The coalition has identified key districts around the state where it will be working to educate voters about the impact of the current budget and the potential consequences of future cuts.

Spicka pointed to the current budget that included a $200 million increase for schools, with at least a quarter of that being swallowed by interest on loans school districts needed to keep their doors open.

“So we’re talking about little tiny crumbs that were tossed out to school districts that are not even going to begin to cover the state-mandated cost increases that school districts will face,” she said.

Without new tax revenues in the coming budget, she said, the burden of the deficit will be borne by those who can least afford it.

“We’re talking about cuts in services to the most vulnerable people in our communities,” she said, “and also cuts in schools where it’s the most vulnerable kids in the state.”

The nonpartisan Pennsylvania’s Choice coalition includes close to 30 member organizations from across the state.

 

 

Image Source: JENNY KANE, The Patriot-News

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