This is not a new tax, nor am I proposing to increase the rate of the existing tax.
I am simply saying the time has come to apply it to the full value of what the company is selling. It is time for oil and gas companies to pay their fair share of the cost of the infrastructure supporting their industry.
Our most costly option would be to do nothing. It will cost us in repairs, it will cost us in rebuilding, and it could cost us in tragedies we might have avoided.
Health Care Reform
This budget makes it clear that we are committed to providing Pennsylvanians with the best health care options at the most affordable price for the taxpayers.
As we planned our budget, we took great care to analyze the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the lives of Pennsylvanians.
In 2009, at a White House reception for Senate Democrats, President Obama said, and I quote: "As we move forward on health reform it is not enough for us to simply add more people to Medicare or Medicaid to increase coverage in the absence of cost controls and reform."
He went on to conclude, "Another way of putting it is, we can't simply put more people into a broken system that doesn't work."
He was right.
We cannot afford to expand a broken system. Right now, without expansion, the cost to maintain our current Department of Public Welfare programs will increase by $400 million. The main driver in that cost increase is Medicaid and long-term care.
Washington is asking us to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act without any clear guidance or reasonable assurances.
Today, I sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius advising her of our position.
We need to work together to provide access to greater and affordable health care for all Pennsylvania families.
However, Washington must provide a clear answer about what this expansion would cost the taxpayers of our state.
The federal government must authorize real flexibility and innovative reforms that empower us to make the program work for Pennsylvania.
We also should not permit the federal government to take away millions of dollars from our hospitals as leverage to implement their one-size-fits-all policies.
At this time, without serious reforms, it would be financially unsustainable for the taxpayers, and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion.
Health & Human Services
In the last two years we have transformed the state’s health and human services programs, making them more efficient and better able to respond quickly to the needs of all Pennsylvanians.
This budget reaffirms this commitment to helping individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. It seeks to help senior citizens, children and low-income families.
Earlier, I mentioned the need to serve more Pennsylvanians who have been on waiting lists. When I think of young people with intellectual or physical challenges, I don’t think of them as disabled. I see them as differently-abled.
I think of youngsters like a little girl named Chloe Kondrich of Allegheny County. I have known Chloe since she was three years old. I know her mother, her father and her grandparents.
In fact, some of you may know her grandfather, Ted Kondrich, who served in the House of Representatives from 1989-1990.
I visited with Chloe this past Wednesday. She is a bright 9-year-old who takes theater classes, plays baseball, and is in fourth grade at Eisenhower Elementary School.
One other thing about Chloe: she was born with Down syndrome.