For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2003

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Contact: Barbara DiTullio

Analysis By Economic Policy Institute and Institute for America's Future Shows Federal Budget Agreement Cuts $755 million from Pennsylvania

Coalition Urges Senators Specter and Santorum To Reject Tax Cut for Wealthy And Invest in Education, Health Care, Other Crucial State Programs During Worst National Budget Crisis Since World War II

Philadelphia—Pennsylvania will suffer $755 million in cuts to key programs over the next 10 years, while Congress sets aside billions for tax breaks for the wealthy, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute and Institute for America’s Future.  The cuts to Pennsylvania detailed in the analysis are included in the 2004 federal budget resolution Congress approved just before the current two-week congressional recess began.  A coalition of community activists and labor leaders urged Senators Specter and Santorum to reject the president’s call for more tax cuts for the wealthy when Congress reconvenes in May and instead to focus on investing in Pennsylvania’s economy to help working families who are bearing the brunt of the recession. 

“Congress approved a budget that makes the situation in Pennsylvania worse, not better, even as they set aside billions for tax cuts that benefit the wealthy.  That’s the wrong choice.  We have serious budget problems, a weak economy, and since January 2001, Pennsylvania has lost 85,000 jobs,” said John Potts, President of Citizens for Consumer Justice.  “We can’t allow Congress to continue to push for tax cuts that favor an elite few while working families and Pennsylvania have to choose between cutting health care, safety programs or education.” 

Barbara Burgos DiTullio, Pennsylvania Fair Taxes for All Coalition
Mary Hurtig, Mental Health Association
Sharon Ward, Philadelphia Citizens for Children & Youth
George Tamaccio, Pennsylvania League of Conservation Voters
Susan Gobreski, League of Conservation Voters
Evonne Tisdale, Philadelphia Unemployment Project
Jean Alexander, Transport Workers Union, Local 234

The report revealed that over the next ten years, Pennsylvania would lose discretionary funds in the following areas:

  • Education & Training - $140 million;
  • Health Care - $112 million
  • Police and Security - $54 million
  • Transportation - $136 million
  • Basic Supports for Low Income Families - $138;
  • Environmental and Natural Resources - $148; and
  • Agriculture - $27 million

The budget agreement cuts spending in every state, while setting aside billions to pay for tax cuts that President Bush has requested.  Earlier this year President Bush asked Congress to approve a tax cut of more than $700 billion which will give 60 percent of its benefits to the wealthiest 10 percent of tax payers.  The cuts to Pennsylvania are based on funding levels approved in the budget agreement and will stay the same with any size tax cut, unless Congress changes the budget resolution to include more funding for already struggling states.   

The federal budget cuts approved by Congress will hit the states especially hard at a time when most of them are struggling to close huge budget shortfalls and working families are bearing the brunt of the recession.  More working families are losing health insurance, their wages are falling and states are unable to create jobs by keeping up with investments in infrastructure spending.  Pennsylvania has already lost ground in the following areas: 

  • As of February 2003, 122,100 workers in Pennsylvania had been out of work so long they ran out of state and emergency federal unemployment insurance benefits and 39,300 of those workers are still unable to find jobs.
  • 1.1 million individuals in Pennsylvania have no health care coverage;
  • 1,158,000 Pennsylvanians are poor, including 384,000 children, 14% of all children in the state;
  • 81 percent of Pennsylvania’s public schools require repairs in order to be in good overall condition.  Needed repairs and upgrades will cost an estimated $10,408,541,747.

When Congress returns to Washington in early May both the House and Senate will make final decisions about the tax cut.  “This tax cut is not a done deal and the budget cuts to Pennsylvania don’t have to be either.  We are asking Senators Specter and Santorum, and the entire Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to put our priorities ahead of tax cuts that won’t improve our economy and instead to invest in programs that are proven to create jobs,” said Barbara Burgos DiTullio, coordinator of the Fair Taxes for All Coalition in Pennsylvania. 

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