Protesters Call On House Speaker Turzai To Balance Budget With Sustainable Sources

Jul 25, 2017

A few dozen protesters gathered outside of Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai’s McCandless office Tuesday, calling on the Republican representative to balance the budget by taxing natural gas and corporations.

Pine Township resident Linda Bishop led a small group of constituents into the office with a list of concerns. Others representing SEIU unions, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network and Fight for $15, stayed outside chanting for more funding for education and fewer tax cuts to corporations.

Bishop said her primary concern was that Turzai wasn’t in Harrisburg.

“Where he belongs is in Harrisburg. We expect better of him,” she said. “Show some leadership, act responsibly, and prioritize getting this budget passed in a timely fashion. Don’t expect the Senate to do your job.”

She also echoed protesters who said they wanted an equitable budget with recurring revenue sources.

Linda Bishop, center, tells protesters Tuesday that she had just requested a sit down meeting with House Speaker Mike Turzai at his McCandless Office.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Turzai’s spokesperson Steve Miskin said the speaker was in Atlanta for a meeting of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He’s expected to be back in Harrisburg Wednesday. While protesters called for taxing natural gas companies, Miskin said that would only bring in a couple of hundred million dollars, while the commonwealth is $1.5 billion dollars in debt. He added it would drive away jobs as companies would go elsewhere.

The state legislature approved a spending plan earlier this month but has not determined how to pay for it. Turzai proposed a no-new tax revenue plan this week that would rely on borrowing funds to close a budget shortfall. That didn’t make it out of a four-hour House Republican caucus Saturday.

Miskin said Turzai will continue his stance on not raising taxes.

“Our caucus is the only group putting out ideas,” Miskin said. “We are constantly thinking about the people we represent.”