Hughes criticizes Gov. Corbett's handling of state's finances, economy

Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-7) criticized Republican Governor Tom Corbett's administration on June 16 for doing "a poor job" managing the state's financial situation and economy.

Last year, the state's Independent Fiscal Office released a budget outlook that showed the state budget faces a deficit of more than $1.4 billion. The state's legislative bodies have until June 30 to come up with a budget plan for the following fiscal year.

Hughes, the Democratic chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee, lauded his legislation, which would impose a 5 percent tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale as a means to eliminate part of the deficit.

He also pointed to other proposals put forth by fellow Democrats, including a plan to raise $1.1 billion in revenue through the expansion of Medicaid, elimination of corporate tax cuts and modernization of the state's liquor store system - all of which are "good options," according to Hughes, that would not require tax increases.

"One thing is clear: we cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of middle class and working families so that the privileged few can continue to avoid paying their fair share," Hughes said. "Irresponsible budget policies that cut aid to public school districts, reduced food stamp eligibility, refused access to affordable health care, and slashed county programs to assist the elderly, poor, and disabled have largely caused the budget problems we now face."