Harrisburg — State Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) announced his support for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 state budget that holds the line on spending, increases funding for education and school safety initiatives, and includes no new taxes.
“While the budget spends more overall than I would prefer, it is probably the best budget that could be negotiated under this Governor, and we held firm against any tax increases,” DiSanto said.
The final spending total of $32.7 billion is $560 million over the current year’s spending, about a 1.7% increase. It allocates money to the state’s Rainy Day fund for the first time in more than a decade.
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,” DiSanto said. “A number of measures have already been introduced, and the School Safety Task Force of which I am a member is still developing additional initiatives. We will use the summer to hold hearings, gather public feedback and work on a final product.”
Much 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.
Additional funding is also included for the Pennsylvania State Police to train three new cadet classes, which will result in nearly 300 additional troopers.
As well, the budget includes additional funding for:
- 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.
- Career and Technical Education to ensure Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps pace with the demands of the labor market.
The budget also 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.
“We certainly accomplished some good things with this year’s budget, but I fully recognize that major challenges remain in controlling overall spending through efficiency initiatives and better management, prioritizing programs based on effectiveness and outcomes, and avoiding tax increases,” DiSanto said. “I know our best days can be ahead of us, fueled by strong economic growth, if only we commit to making wise financial and regulatory decisions, including ending the reliance on one-time revenues and gimmicks to create the appearance of a balanced budget.”
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