State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione released the following statement about today’s budget vote in the Appropriations Committee:

“It’s been said many times that the state budget process is about choices.  Sometimes, those choices are tough.

But the budget plan pushed through the Appropriations Committee today after unilateral negotiations is more about ignoring choices than making tough ones.

Teachers will be laid off and local property taxes will be going up across the state because the governor puts his promise to a lobbyist ahead of his obligation to education.

This budget is being promoted to protect large corporations that are intent on avoiding their obligations to other taxpayers.

More than half of the states that levy corporate income taxes have now adopted a ‘combined reporting’ requirement, making sure that corporations can’t form out-of-state shell companies to lower their state tax bills.

The Department of Revenue has estimated that combined reporting could recoup more than $500 million in lost tax revenue, enough to keep our teachers in their classrooms, protect hospitals and lower our highest-in-the-nation corporate net income tax.

Before the explosion of gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, energy companies created hundreds of Delaware subsidiaries.  Last year, 87 percent of drilling-related companies paid no corporate net income tax in Pennsylvania.

At the same time, laid off workers, struggling to recover from the recession, have gone back to work over the past 12 months and have contributed from their paychecks to a budget surplus that will hit $700 million by the middle of next week.

It is an insult to working families that the legislature and the governor will sit on that surplus and continue to let corporations play games with their tax bills and then claim we can’t afford to keep teachers in classrooms.

The same lawmakers who hyperventilate about $400 million in nebulous and unidentified welfare fraud have gone mute over $500 million in unpaid corporate income taxes.

That’s not making tough choices.  That’s making a clear choice to ease the tax burden of multi-national corporations and dump it on the poor, the struggling and the sick.

If this budget is adopted, thousands of families across Pennsylvania will see property taxes go up as their children go back to school in more-crowded classrooms, while the state stashes their tax dollars and protects the profits wealthy corporations.

With tax policy that puts the burden on families, schools and hospitals, while giving a pass to energy and retail giants, it’s no wonder that Wall St. has recovered from the recession while working families continue to struggle.

Pennsylvania families should demand that their hard-earned dollars be used to educate their children, improve their communities and lower their local taxes.

This budget doesn’t do it.”