Lawmakers must focus on restoring cuts, protecting jobs and investing in our Commonwealth

The CLEAR Coalition today urged lawmakers to reject risky pension and privatization proposals that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and instead focus on passing a budget that restores cuts by halting corporate tax giveaways and finally closing tax loopholes.

“There are four days left to enact a state budget and Pennsylvanians are paying attention. For two years, our public schools have been crippled by cuts. Vital healthcare services for elderly and needy Pennsylvanians have been slashed,” said Dave Fillman, Chair of the CLEAR Coalition and Executive Director of AFSCME Council 13. “It’s time to put families first, end the gamesmanship and pass a state budget that is fair, balanced and supports our families.

Gov. Corbett and lawmakers are focused on two policies, pension ‘reform’ and privatizing the Liquor Control Board (LCB) that drain revenue from the commonwealth. Pension ‘reform’ proposals under consideration in both the House and Senate could ultimately cost taxpayers an additional $40 billion, according to Public Employee Retirement Commission and other experts who have studied the plans. The proposals threaten the retirement security of more than 800,000 retired teachers and the men and women who provide care for elderly Pennsylvanians and keep our streets safe.

“The governor needs to listen to the experts who say that closing the defined benefit plans would cost taxpayers’ billions of dollars,” said Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU local 668.

Risky schemes to privatize the LCB now under consideration in the Senate would jeopardize 5,000 family-sustaining jobs and more than $700 million in taxes, profit and other transfers the LCB will provide all taxpayers this year.

“MADD, SADD, and dozens of other groups oppose privatization because it is dangerous public health policy,” said Rick Bloomingdale, President of the PA AFL-CIO. “Taxpayers cannot afford to foot the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. We cannot afford to lose thousands of good-paying jobs.”

“The priorities in Harrisburg need to shift from proposals that will cost taxpayers billions and cost jobs to restoring cuts through halting tax cuts for corporations and closing corporate tax loopholes,” added Fillman.

The CLEAR Coalition, which represents 1.1 million working families across the Commonwealth, is encouraged by the recent conversations to halt the phase out of the capital stock and franchise tax (CSFT) and to finally close the ‘Delaware’ tax loophole. Freezing the CSFT at the 2012 rate would raise $360 million for the state treasury. Lawmakers in both parties agree that the state cannot afford to continue the phase-out. “We simply cannot afford more corporate tax cuts right now. The legislature has delayed the reduction of the capital stock and franchise tax in the past because of difficult economic times, and they should do it again this year. Lawmakers should be the focusing on restoring cuts to our school and services middle class families rely on instead of more tax cuts for corporations,” said Jellison.

The CLEAR coalition is also encouraged by the proposals to close corporate tax loopholes, such as the ‘Delaware’ loophole. However, current proposals are too weak and would legally allow companies to avoid paying their fair share. Legislation must effectively close corporate tax loopholes and generate revenue.

“Lawmakers have an obligation and an opportunity in the closing days of this fiscal year to go to bat for working and middle class families. They need to focus on solutions that will provide real revenues and retirement security for retirees,” said Bloomingdale.