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Groups Launch “Pennsylvania’s Choice” Budget Campaign

A coalition of organizations has launched a "Pennsylvania's Choice" 2017 budget campaign. (Education Voters of Penn.)
A coalition of organizations has launched a "Pennsylvania's Choice" 2017 budget campaign. (Education Voters of Penn.)
February 1, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A coalition gathered in the Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg Tuesday to launch what it's calling the "Pennsylvania's Choice" 2017 budget campaign. The groups advocate for consumers, educators, workers and more. They describe the state's tax system as "upside down," asking those with low and moderate incomes to pay more than their fair share.

Susan Spicka, the executive director of the Education Voters of Pennsylvania, says lawmakers face a choice.

"They can raise adequate new revenue to support the communities and the schools, or they can choose to go down the same old road, where they say that there isn't enough money and continue to cut," she said.

They're calling on the state to institute a new tax on income from wealth, such as interest and dividends, while keeping taxes on wages at current levels.

Spicka calls it a "Fair Share Tax."

"Asking people who have done very, very well over the past eight to ten years to pay a little bit more, so that we can build the kinds of communities that we need to have," she explained.

The state is currently headed for a $600 million deficit in this fiscal year, and up to $1.7 billion in the year that starts July 1st.

Governor Tom Wolf is expected to ask for a small increase in education funding when he presents his budget next week. But Spicka says the state needs a "Fair Share Tax" to help underfunded school districts close the education funding gap.

"We can get them up to a level where they can provide their students with the same services and the same opportunities that the well-funded school districts provide for their students," explained Spicka.

The coalition estimates that could take about $400 million dollars a year, over six to seven years.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA