Statement in Response to the 2023 State of the Union Address
President Biden Outlines Historic Accomplishments and Identifies Goals for the Future
Harrisburg, PA — Following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech this evening, Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, released the following statement:
“President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress tonight served as a helpful review of the historic accomplishments that were made during his first two years in the White House, as well as outlining his goals and priorities for 2023 and beyond. The president highlighted the tremendous investments that are being delivered through the bipartisan infrastructure law, making long overdue upgrades to roads, bridges, railroads, and public transit; safeguarding our drinking water; guaranteeing affordable and reliable high-speed in every community; and repairing the damage to land and water from mining and drilling. President Biden’s infrastructure law is bringing $17.8 billion to projects in Pennsylvania — more than $1,400 for each resident of the state — creating jobs and improving communities across the commonwealth. The president also noted the Inflation Reduction Act enacted last year, which is the most significant legislation in U.S. history to address the climate crisis and strengthen American energy security, lowering energy costs for households and businesses, creating manufacturing jobs for American workers, and delivering a clean, secure, and healthy future for our children and grandchildren.
“We were also pleased to hear President Biden renew his call for Congress to pass a Billionaire Minimum Income Tax to end the scandal of billionaires and other ultra-rich individuals paying a lower tax rate than teachers, nurses and firefighters — and sometimes paying nothing at all. Billionaires got $1.2 trillion, or 40%, richer over the last five years since the Trump-GOP tax cuts were enacted, thanks to a big tax loophole that allows many of them to pay little if any federal income taxes on those investment gains. The Billionaire Minimum Income Tax — which was cosponsored in the previous Congress by Pennsylvania Representatives Brendan Boyle, Madeleine Dean, Dwight Evans, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Susan Wild — would ensure that the ultra-rich pay something closer to their fair share.
“We commend President Biden for his commitment to continuing to improve the state of our union and delivering the long-overdue public investments that will allow hardworking Pennsylvanians to thrive.”
Statement on Victory in the Education Funding Lawsuit
Harrisburg – We are deeply gratified that Commonwealth Court Justice Renée Cohn Jubelirer has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the education funding lawsuit, which sought to have Pennsylvania’s system of funding K-12 schools declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it did not meet the requirement that “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth” (PA Constitution. Art. 3 section 4).
The dry language of law and statistics in Judge Jubelirer’s long opinion fully embraces the moral and constitutional imperative that “every student receives a meaningful opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and civically, which requires that all students have access to a comprehensive, effective, and contemporary system of public education” (William Penn School District et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education; Memorandum Opinion by President Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer, February 7, 2023, p. 776.)
Together with our allies in the Pennsylvania Schools Work campaign, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Keystone Research Center have released study after study that document the failure of the K-12 schools in the state of Pennsylvania to meet this standard. Together with our allies, we have shown that schools in low-income, high-poverty communities, as well as communities with a large share of Black and Hispanic students, are severely underfunded relative to schools in higher-income communities with a smaller share of Black and Hispanic students. We have shown the harmful effects of the funding inequity on student achievement and later life success.
This important decision now mandates that Governor Shapiro and the General Assembly devise a plan together to overcome the deep inequity in school funding that has not only harmed generation after generation of young people in our commonwealth but has robbed all of us of the full flowering of the talents and abilities of young people who have received an inadequate education.
While we look back with sadness at those generations of students who were left behind, Judge Jubelirer’s decision today enables us to look forward to a new era in which our state constitution’s promise of educational equality is finally made a reality.
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