By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A nonpartisan coalition of labor, education, religious and civic groups is holding a tele-town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in state budget negotiations.

The budget is due at the end of June, but negotiations have been slow. The state is facing a $3.5 billion deficit.

According to Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget would reduce that deficit through a combination of increased efficiencies and higher taxes on corporations and businesses.

“The House has come back with a budget that is much below the governor’s spending level with really deep cuts to medical assistance and child care services, pre-K and Head Start, and mental health and substance abuse funding that is still unbalanced,” Stier points out.

Registration for the tele-town hall and a Budget Day of Action in Harrisburg on Monday is available online at

Pennsylvania’s Choice is calling on legislators to pass a budget that serves the people of the Commonwealth.

Stier says that begins with fixing the state’s broken tax system so everyone pays his or her fair share.

“We have this upside down tax system, which taxes people at the bottom at 12 percent, and the top 1 percent only pay 4 percent – and they’re the ones whose incomes are going up,” he states.

Stier says declining revenues are driving the deficits, and without new revenue the state won’t be able to make critical investments in communities.

“It just stands to reason, it’s a matter of basic mathematics,” he states. “If you’re not taxing the people whose incomes are going up, you’re not going to have tax revenues to provide the services that all of us, rich and poor, need.”

Pennsylvania’s Choice is organizing buses to bring people from across the state to the rally on Monday in Harrisburg. That rally will get under way at noon.