The Better Choices for Pennsylvania coalition sent a memo to Governor Wolf and the Members of the General Assembly on June 27th, 2015, advocating for a 2015-16 budget that restores funding that was cut from human services in recent years and that increases investment in the services that improve the quality of life for Pennsylvania's most vulnerable residents.

The text of the memo is included below.


To: Governor Tom Wolf and Members of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania

From: The Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition

RE: 2015-16 Budget and the Need to Invest in Human Services

Pennsylvania needs a new direction. For far too long, our commonwealth has been relying on tax cuts as its cure for all ills. It has not worked. While the wealthiest Pennsylvanians are prospering, too many in the state are struggling to make ends meet.

Chronic underfunding of human services programs combined with funding cuts enacted in recent years have left working families, people with disabilities, senior citizens, children, and the agencies that provide assistance to these populations struggling to do more with less. We need a responsible budget that restores funding to these vital programs and increases investment in the services that help our most vulnerable citizens to live, learn, work, and thrive in Pennsylvania.

In order to accomplish this vision, we need to raise revenue in a way that makes our tax system fairer for vulnerable communities and...

Here is a brief overview of Governor Wolf's proposed 2015-16 budget from the perspective of the tax fairness recommendations that were made by the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition on Wednesday, February 18th. The governor's proposal includes six of the 19 recommendations, and a seventh -- property tax relief -- that is broader than the "circuit breaker" relief program recommended by the Better Choices coalition.

There will more detailed analysis in the coming days and weeks, but here is the initial list of Better Choices for Pennsylvania's tax fairness recommendations that are included in Governor Wolf's 2015-16 budget proposal:

#1 Permanently close most corporate tax loopholes by enacting combined reporting.

#3 Adopt a severance tax comparable to that imposed in West Virginia

#4 Apply the cigarette tax to smokeless products and e-cigarettes.

#5 Fix the bank tax

#13 Expand the Tax Forgiveness Program

#15 Maintain the sales tax exemption for all food items

#16 Create a property tax rebate program for working people (included in a broader form, through the Homestead Exemption program)

The Better Choices for Pennsylvania coalition's announcement of its 19 Tax Fairness recommendations was reported in newspapers, as well as by radio and television stations. Photos and links to media coverage are included below:

"Report Highlights 19 Recommendations for Fairer PA Tax System" (Front page story), PLS Capitol Recap, 2/18/2015
"The Better Choices Coalition of Pennsylvania released a report with a list of 19 recommendations to make Pennsylvania’s tax system equitable ... JoAnne Sessa, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 668, explained the Commonwealth’s revenue problem is due in part to out dated corporate tax loopholes. 'Nearly 75 percent of Pennsylvania’s corporations pay a smaller percentage in taxes than many of our members,' Sessa said ..."

"Groups present plans to overhaul state taxes," Scranton Times-Tribune, 2/22/2015

"Local leaders call on Harrisburg to level tax play," WFMZ Channel 69 News, 2/19/2015

"News from the Capitol" segment (Coverage begins at 48:43), The Rick Smith Show, 2/18/2015

"Left-Leaning Groups Offer Tax Policy Suggestions," WESA-FM, 2/19/2015

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