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Rally pushes higher taxes on wealthy to fund health and education

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 5, 2017 4:31 PM
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Upwards of 500 people filled the state Capitol rotunda for a rally organized by the group Pennsylvania's Choice.

(Harrisburg) -- June has arrived, and that means it's budget season at the Capitol.

Upwards of five hundred people crowded into the state Capitol rotunda for a rally on Monday, filling the steps and the upper floors, all chanting for a budget that funds health, human services, and education.

"Put people first" could be heard echoing through the rotunda.

The Pennsylvania's Choice group includes the left-leaning Budget and Policy Center, the Education Voters of Pennsylvania, and a health care workers union (SEIU).

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Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Attendees at a rally organized by the group Pennsylvania's Choice chant from the second floor of the state Capitol rotunda.

Rev. Andrea Warrington works more than 40 hours a week as a home health aide but said she doesn't make enough to meet her needs.

"I think it is an atrocity, that all of the taxes that I pay, as hard as I work, I have to stand in the hollows of this hall and beg you not to kill me," she says.

A bill passed by US House Republicans would impact people with pre-existing health conditions, but state legislators have no control over federal health care policy.

Harrington, who works in Brookhaven, Delaware County, says cuts to human services shouldn't be part of the budget discussion.

"When my parapalegic client cannot get out of the bed, why? Because there's not a health care worker there to get him out of the bed."

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Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

Meanwhile, other speakers argued for higher taxes on the wealthy, a higher minimum wage, and a severance tax on natural gas drillers.

They also asked lawmakers to invest in inspectors for clean air and water, and called education and health care human rights.

Many called the crowd, which spilled into the second and third floors of the Capitol, the largest they've seen for the annual rally.

The state's budget deadline is June 30th.

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