HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania lawmakers gave final approval to a fiscal year 2019-2020 spending plan Thursday that has no tax increases, provides funding for essential services, promotes workforce development, bolsters education and makes a substantial investment in the state Rainy Day Fund, according to Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33).
The budget received bipartisan support from the PA Senate, and House Bill 790 now goes to the Governor for enactment into law.
“The budget provides what is required for our most vulnerable, while exercising good stewardship,” said Mastriano, who supported the bill. “Although it’s not perfect, as Ben Franklin said in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention, politics is the art of the possible.”
“The budget meets all of the core responsibilities of state government, with no new taxes,” added Mastriano.
Revenues for Fiscal Year 2018-19 are anticipated to be $865 million over projections, with an end balance of about $300 million, and will be placed into the Rainy Day Fund, which covers financial shortfalls in the event of an economic downturn. The budget also supports education. “Altogether, these investments will help students at all levels reach their fullest potential,” said Mastriano.
This budget supports the Senate Republicans’ efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s students and school staff by investing additional funding into the Safe Schools program created last year by the legislature, and administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Overall, the $60 million program aims to improve school safety and reduce community violence.
The budget boosts agriculture-related funding by more than $19 million. Highlights include new programs to support youth in agriculture, meet the growing demand for specialty crops, improve disaster response, provide low-interest loans for the implementation of agriculture and conservation best-management practices, boost livestock and consumer health, assist with ag business development and succession planning, and bolster the Healthy Farms Healthy Schools program.
Additionally, Senate Republicans restored Governor Wolf’s proposed $4 million cut to critical programs in the Dept. of Agriculture.
Overall, the state’s 59,000 farm families manage about 7.7 million acres of farmland, and the ag industry generates more than $7.5 million in cash receipts annually.
“As the vice chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, it was extremely imperative to continue to invest in our farming community,” said Mastriano. “Agriculture is vital to the 33rd District, and it is my hope that the industry continues to grow and thrive.”
Also, the budget promotes workforce development and job training initiatives by:
- Increasing funding for Career and Technical Education by 7.6 percent ($7 million) from $92 million to $99 million.
- Increasing funding for Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants by 117.6 percent ($3 million) from $2.5 million to $5.5 million.
- Increasing funding for the Pennsylvania College of Technology by 17.6 percent ($4 million) from $22.7 million to $26.7 million.
- Increasing funding for Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology by 27.2 percent ($4 million) from $14.7 million to $18.7 million.
- Increasing funding for New Choices/New Options by 50 percent ($250,000) from $500,000 to $750,000.
Mastriano concluded: “The bottom-line is that we are investing in the Commonwealth without raising taxes. This is good news for the 33rd District and all of Pennsylvania.”
CONTACT: Scot A. Pitzer; 717-787-4651; firstname.lastname@example.org.