INITIAL BUDGET AMENDMENT PROCESS
May 1, 2002 -- Senator Fumo spoke on the floor of the Senate today concerning the proposed state budget for 2002-2003. His remarks followed the adoption of a series of amendments offered by Democrats that provided dramatic increases in state funding for local school districts, and new or additional state aid for a number of other causes. Those included prescription drug insurance for senior citizens, the HEMAP program that helps homeowners keep their homes if they lose their jobs, funding for higher education, cancer research, care of children with disabilities and support for their families, support for volunteer firefighters and emergency crews, and protection of open spaces and clean air and water.
Fumo urged the Republican majority to argue for retaining those items when the final version of the budget is negotiated among the House, Senate and the Governor.
Following are excerpts of his remarks:
This has been a good process. It showed the people of Pennsylvania that there was a lot of common ground on things we want to do for Pennsylvania.
This budget, while not perfect, in a year when we are looking at a downturn in the economy, is really not a bad budget as amended.
I canít vote for it because of only one thing, the Dent amendment [which removed a proposed funding increase for the Philadelphia School district while giving all other districts a 13 percent increase.]
But I know that money is coming back, so Iím not worried.
The thing I am worried about, and the charge I give to the Republican majority in the Senate, is that when we go into negotiations, that you protect the good things we did here last night. Things for education, property taxpayers, senior citizen, and all the other groups that we helped last night, like cancer research and others.
Contrary to what Senator [Jeffrey] Piccola said, I donít think that one vote was irresponsible. I was always taught that government was designed to take care of those who canít take care of themselves, and this budget does that.
So I urge you that during negotiations, you protect the things we put in here.
Maybe this is a year when we cut some bureaucracies across the board;we get some of that fat out and give money to some of these other causes.
Non profits and government agencies every now and then have to be kicked in the rear end. You have to think differently; you have to think out of the box.
Fumo said that the quality of education had been declining in Pennsylvania.
We canít exist as a commonwealth if we allow it to continue. It has to be our most important priority.
So protect the things that you put in here...Donít let the bureaucracy come over and take that money back. This is even the kind of budget for which we could spring votes [from Democrats] to go into the Rainy Day fund to protect the things we put into the budget.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo