HARRISBURG, June 30, 2010 – State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.) today offered the following comments following the Senate passage of the state’s 2010-2011 budget:

“I voted yes for this budget because I am committed to the public safety and welfare of the people of Pennsylvania,” Farnese said. “I believe this budget proves Pennsylvania’s commitment to the same by funding law enforcement, education and ensuring that we’re putting people to work.”

“In a budget year where we had to make tough choices and cuts all around, we were still able to increase public safety funds, such as to the gun violence task force and the witness relocation program, as well as funding to the courts,” Farnese added. “Support of these initiatives is absolutely critical to ensuring the public safety, as illegal guns and witness intimidation are the biggest threats to public safety in Philadelphia.”

“This year, we are again increasing funding for basic education,” Farnese said. “With this $250 million increase, we continue to recognize that our investment in the children of the Commonwealth is one of our most imperative duties.
“As funding to school districts has increased over the past 8 years, so has our children’s success in their academic careers. With greater academic success comes greater job viability and a greater chance for economic sustainability for the citizens we represent.”

“When faced with these tough economic times, a primary focus of government must also be the revitalization and stabilization of our state’s economic,” Farnese added. “We must concentrate our limited resources on helping our economy grow through business creation, as well as by assisting existing businesses in keeping their doors open and employing our citizens. That is why one of the bright spots in this budget is the increase in funding for Community and Economic Development.

“We have increased overall funding for DCED by $65.5 million, which includes an increase to Industrial Development Assistance. We have also re-established funding previously zeroed out for Local Government and Resources Development, Urban Development, Economic Growth and Development Assistance, Communities and Municipal Facilities Assistance, Community Conservation and Employment and Community and Regional Development.”

“We still have more work to do,” Farnese said. “Pennsylvania must follow the lead of 48 other states and tax smokeless tobacco. We should also ensure that businesses pay their fair share of taxes by closing the Delaware loophole.

“And most importantly, when we come back in the fall to address a severance tax on the natural gas industry, our first concern must be public safety. We must ensure that funding goes toward environmental stewardship as well as strict regulation and enforcement of the industry. Although much work remains, the budget today does good things for the citizens of my district and the people of Pennsylvania.”

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