HARRISBURG, July 27, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding Senate passage of a package of bills needed to balance the 2017-18 state budget.

“The Pennsylvania State Senate again demonstrated that, through bipartisan communication, negotiation and compromise, work can get done and difficult decisions can be made in Harrisburg to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.  The revenue package adopted with bipartisan support today is not a perfect fix to all of our fiscal challenges, but it begins to legislate the long-term, reliable revenue solutions to the problems created by years of budgetary gimmicks and one-time transfers.”

“We have a constitutional responsibility to balance the state budget.   We also needed to avoid a credit-rating downgrade by Wall Street rating agencies as it would of cost taxpayers millions of dollars in debt service payments.   I voted for the spending plan we sent to the Governor’s desk on June 30th.   I had a responsibility to vote on the legislation necessary to effectuate that budget and meet our constitutional obligation.   Since taking office, I have fought for a responsible severance tax to assure that all Pennsylvania residents are adequately compensated for the volume of natural gas extracted from our state.  I am very proud that we were finally able to muster sufficient bipartisan support in the Senate for a reasonable severance tax that will raise over $100 million in the current fiscal year in addition to the $200 million impact fee.”

“While we are optimistic that the Senate plan passed today is the best solution-set possible with support from the Governor, the Senate and the House Democratic caucus in Harrisburg, it is still no guarantee that the House Republican majority will step up to the plate.  We did our job in the Senate.   We were able to accomplish a lot of good things in the budget bill passed in June including an additional $150 million for Basic Education, Special Education and Pre-K; adequate funding to serve families and individuals dealing with intellectual disabilities; funding for County Human Services and probation and parole services as well as funding for our Regional Cancer Institute and Heritage Parks programs.  We were also able to secure, in addition to the base appropriation, an additional $500,000 for the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.  The House voted in an overwhelming majority to support the state’s spending bill for this year.  Now it is imperative the they follow the lead of the Senate and return to session to vote for bills to effectuate that budget, including the bill that assures the revenue necessary to fund it.”

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