By Susan Rzucidlo, Candidate, State Representative, 158th District
Budget season in Harrisburg is in full swing. Mark Kennedy Shriver, (Former Maryland Representative and now with Save the Children), once said, “All budgets reflect values.” This is a statement with which I agree. What values does this year’s budget reflect?
As we face a $1.2 billion dollar deficit, Gov. Tom Corbett’s Budget Secretary, Charles Zogby said, “So there is no money for basic education, no money for Pre-K, no money to provide middle class higher education scholarships, no money for the intellectual disabilities wait-list.” From this we can deduce that quality public education is not something that Gov. Corbett’s administration values. I value quality education for all and will fight for its funding.
Some Legislators and candidates are pushing for an “Angel Investor Tax Credit”. This is a 25% tax credit for venture capitalists to avoid paying taxes into the general fund. This “Angel Investor Tax Credit” is unfair to the taxpayers who struggle every day to pay their bills and take care of their families. Those who are pushing for this, value wealthy venture capitalists over the health of our state’s economy. This is something I do not value and do not support.
Gas drillers pay zero property taxes. Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state without a severance tax. A modest five-percent tax would produce $650 million in revenue. It is unfair for Big Oil to get tax breaks while families are losing their homes because of high property taxes. Our current administration values Big Oil and corporations more than they value our families. I value families and this additional revenue could fund education, transportation, and services to individuals who have disabilities.
In Pennsylvania we have created a system of corporate tax breaks, loopholes and subsidies that keep hundreds of millions of dollars out of our state revenue. One estimate puts Pennsylvania’s corporate welfare costs at $1.2 billion. 71% of PA corporations pay no taxes at all in Pennsylvania. As your representative in Harrisburg, I will work to create a lower and fairer tax rate for families and businesses instead of bowing to the wants and needs of corporations and special interests.
Another way to determine values is to look at how our tax dollars are being spent. Tom Corbett has spent more than $100 million of our taxes on outside law firms to defend causes such as Act 13, Voter ID and selling the lottery off to private investors that were later dropped and/or found to be unconstitutional. This administration values their extreme agenda more than it values being fiscally responsible with the taxes they’ve collected from families.
Regardless of party affiliation, I believe we can agree that our government should value true fiscal responsibility. Smart financial management requires strategic tax reform, lowering the overall tax rate while increasing the number of corporations paying their fair share of taxes. Pennsylvania needs to adopt a genuinely responsible fiscal plan that meets the needs of the people and the state.
What do you want your legislator and your government to value? A look at how the current legislature, administration and those seeking election spend their money, what kind of work they do and where they spend their time will reveal their values.
All budgets reflect values. I value smart investing for future growth, a positive business environment, protection of our natural resources, reduction in waste and the elimination of unfair practices and fraud. All of these things should be reflected in our state’s budget.
Susan Rzucidlo is the Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 158th District and a resident of New Garden.