Harrisburg, PA – July 11, 2022 – On Friday Governor Wolf signed a $45.2 billion budget with historic investments that include significant education funding. In response to the state’s new budget and the simultaneous attack that state Republicans waged on women and communities of color during budget discussions and voting, Senator Sharif Street shared the following statement:
“Last week in Harrisburg, we saw examples of how good government can work for people and examples of bad government that disregards the will of the people by moving to restrict and repeal basic constitutionally protected rights. The latter was done without debate, under dark and was undemocratic in that regard. Ultimately, we passed two budgets, one that both invests in and divests from Pennsylvanians.
In my district and across our commonwealth gun violence has impacted every community. I’ve continually called for $300 M to address gun violence and invest in those that do the difficult work of keeping our communities safe. The allocation of $290M for community violence prevention funding protects the families and lives of Pennsylvanians and is one of the most important things we’ve done. Additionally historic funding in education, housing and tax relief are critical investments in communities. This includes $1.1B for education spending, increases in the amount of money individuals can receive through Pennsylvania’s Property Tax and Rent Rebate program, and over a quarter of a billion dollars for affordable housing including the Whole Home Repairs program that will provide homeowners with up to $50,000 to repair and update their homes to fight blight, loss of property value and protect generational wealth. These are good investments in the people of Pennsylvania, and it is the work we were sent to Harrisburg to do.
But late last Thursday night while our budget still had not passed, Pennsylvania Senate Republicans moved quickly to repeal fundamental rights of women and people of color by advancing an abortion ban and voting amendment – to enshrine the disenfranchisement of black and brown communities and women – into Pennsylvania’s constitution. At midnight they imbedded, into one bill (SB106), practices and principles that would disenfranchise both groups in the place we call the birthplace of democracy.
Republicans have been unable to repeal women’s right and voting rights through the legislative process and so they have begun to lay the groundwork to do both by bypassing any Pennsylvanian Governor who would protect people through veto power. If these measures pass two successive legislative sessions, the repeal of a woman’s basic health rights and restriction of voting rights will be regulated to ballot measures, possibly as soon as 2023.
As a government we are now on the precipice of the “tyranny of the majority” by allowing PA Republican leaders to limit or repeal the freedoms of women and communities of color.
Our primary role is to protect and empower communities. It is not government’s job to reduce or restrict basic rights. The PA Budget reflects a General Assembly that is both bipartisan and bipolar. But we are not deterred. Pennsylvanians have consistently supported the right to abortion access and the right to vote freely, fairly and without interference.
Democrats will now be deliberate and focused in educating the public on Republican efforts to rescind basic constitutional rights. We will organize and resist every effort to disenfranchise the people through ballot measures to amend Pennsylvania’s Constitution. We will continue to fight for the people of Pennsylvania.”