The state Senate today approved a fiscally responsible budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 that holds the line on spending, increases funding for education and school safety initiatives, and includes no new taxes, according to Senator Scavello, who supported the measure.
“After several years of embracing conservative budgeting, today we find ourselves on stronger financial footing,” said Scavello. “An on-time budget with limited spending that avoids unnecessary tax increases is an example of how government can deliver services in a responsible manner on behalf of our taxpayers.”
Scavello said the final spending total for the 2018-19 budget is $32.7 billion, below the rate of inflation.
The budget also makes a historic investment in school safety with more than $60 million in new funding for school resource officers, security equipment and other proven methods of preventing school violence.
“While the funding is critical, we are fully aware that additional money won’t solve the problem alone – we need to look at programs and resources that school districts can use to keep our kids safe,” said Scavello. “A number of measures have already been introduced, and our School Safety Task Force is still vetting additional initiatives. Since I have already held a meeting with school district officials and law enforcement in my legislative district, I am encouraged that we continue to make progress in keeping out students safe.”
A significant part of the additional spending is devoted to education. The budget increases funding for Basic Education by $100 million, Pre-K Counts and Head Start by $25 million, and Special Education by $15 million. Educational Improvement Tax Credits – which help students trapped in failing schools – will also see a $25 million increase.
Higher education is also a priority in the budget. State System of Higher Education funding will increase by 3.3 percent, and funding for state-related universities will increase by 3 percent. Community colleges will also see a 3-percent boost in funding.
Scavello also noted increases in statewide tourism marketing, which would be a great benefit to the Greater Pocono and Lehigh Valley region. “This budget not only restored the Administration’s proposed $8 million cut to tourism marketing, but actually increased funding by nearly $5 million over the previous year’s total,” Scavello said. “This is significant because for every one dollar the Commonwealth spends on tourism, it is has been shown that we can expect to receive an approximate three dollar return on investment.”
Additional funding is also included for the Pennsylvania State Police to train three new cadet classes, which will result in nearly 300 additional troopers.
Other highlights include additional funding for:
- Career and Technical Education to ensure Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps pace with the demands of the labor market.
- Services for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
- Home and community-based services for an additional 5,230 seniors and those with physical disabilities.
- Child care services to an additional 1,600 children.
- Home visit services for 800 families impacted by the opioid epidemic.
The budget recognizes the importance of three industries that have historically been among Pennsylvania’s most critical sectors of the economy: agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, restoring funding that the Governor’s original budget plan cut.
“Passing a fiscally responsible budget this year is an absolute necessity in the face of the daunting challenges we will face in the years to come,” Scavello observed. “But with those challenges come new opportunities that could set our Commonwealth on the path to a brighter economic future.”
CONTACT: Christine Zubeck email@example.com (717) 787-6123