Labor unions advise Pa. lawmakers on ways to save $2 billion

    A coalition of public labor unions is suggesting a number of reforms to help Pennsylvania save more than $2 billion and avoid more cuts this year to education and unspecified “vital services.”

    It’s a list several pages thick — ideas for saving $50 million here, $200 million there.

    One proposal, to close a corporate tax loophole, recently earned bipartisan support in the Legislature.

    Another suggestion calls for modernizing the state’s liquor system rather than the House GOP push to sell the state stores altogether.

    David Fillman, who chairs the Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues, said the series of tax reforms, efficiency improvements, certain spending cuts, and new revenue sources can help the state get back into the black.

    “We were purposefully bipartisan in our approach. We also looked at some other states and what they’ve done to close their deficits,” Fillman said. “The fact is, there are alternatives to the draconian budget cuts we enacted last year.”

    For all the talk about having an interest in crossing the aisle, the word ‘draconian’ was bandied about by union leaders such as Mike Brunelle with the Service Employees International Union.

    “Not considering these proposals out of an ideological desire to needlessly cut programs or fulfill a promise made to out-of-state special interests is short-sighted and unwise at best,” he said Thursday.

    Brunelle was alluding to Corbett’s no-new-tax pledge with the Washington, D.C., Americans for Tax Reform group headed by Grover Norquist.

    Rick Bloomington of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO said the coalition isn’t trying to slam the administration — just asking them “not to do what they did last year.”

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