Philadelphia, Jan. 30, 2014 – Senate Democrats gathered in seven communities across Pennsylvania today to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett to produce a spending plan that is aligned with the needs of Pennsylvanians.

Sen. Christine Tartaglione joined Philadelphia senators here to highlight the negative impact of previous Corbett budgets and describe why the upcoming budget is so important.

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“Pennsylvania’s state budget is an identification of priorities and a strategy for investment,” Sen. Tartaglione said. “We can do better than what Gov. Corbett and his administration have provided.

Tartaglione and Senate Democrats said their budget priorities reflect needs shared by all Pennsylvanians, including job creation, expansion of health care through Medicaid, increasing the minimum wage, repairing the social safety net and restoring education funds.

“Under Gov. Corbett’s leadership, Pennsylvania has fallen to the bottom in job creation and government efficiency, and we must do a better job of identifying policy priorities,” she said. “Senate Democrats have concrete plans to move the state forward and our payment method does not involve a broad-based tax increase.”

Senate Democrats said they will push for the following in this budget:

  • Creating jobs by funding targeted water and sewer rehabilitation projects, strengthening school-to-work programs and expanding community economic zones throughout the state;
  • Investing in education with a $300 million boost, bolstering funds for early education and committing to a long-term financing plan that restores funding;
  • Increasing the state’s minimum wage to at least $9 per hour, indexing the wage to inflation and raising the tipped minimum wage;
  • Expanding Medicaid and extending health care to 500,000 Pennsylvania families while generating budget savings of $400 million; and
  • Repairing holes in the social safety net by using $85 million in Medicaid budget savings for human services programming such as drug, alcohol and mental health.

Sen. Tartaglione said her priorities for the new budget are for the state to restore education funding and for the governor to finally take the lead on raising the minimum wage.

“Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour,” she said. “That isn’t enough for a person living in this state to pay rent, buy a car or purchase groceries for themselves, much less a family. My legislation will raise the minimum wage incrementally to $9.00/hour by 2015, after which it would automatically increase every year with inflation.”

Without an adequate base wage that is competitive with neighboring states, Tartaglione said educational initiatives, if the governor proposes any, would be moot.

“All the education and career preparation in the world won’t help present and future generations if we don’t ensure access to quality jobs and quality income when they graduate,” the senator said. “Right now, we have too many minimum wage jobs and too many educated, over-qualified, minimum wage workers.

“We need to ensure individuals working full-time jobs are able to support themselves and their family members,” she said.

Senate Democrats said they will provide immediate reaction to the governor’s budget address following his scheduled speech to the General Assembly Feb. 4.