DiSanto Supports Fiscally Responsible, No Tax Increase State Budget

HARRISBURG—Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) today voted in favor of House Bill 790, the 2019-20 State Budget, and various enabling legislation.  The nearly $34 billion spending plan, a 1.8 increase over the current fiscal year, includes no broad-based tax increases, provides funding for essential services, promotes workforce development efforts, bolsters education spending at all levels and makes a substantial investment in the state Rainy Day Fund.

Regarding his vote, DiSanto said, “This budget isn’t perfect in my mind, but it was a product of reasonable compromise between the Senate, House and Governor that achieves many of my priorities, and I am proud to support it. It holds the line on taxes and represents good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

Revenues for Fiscal Year 2018-19 are anticipated to be $865 million over projections, with an ending balance of about $300 million. All of that money will go into the Rainy Day Fund, which covers financial shortfalls in the event of a dip in the economy.

The budget increases state support for all levels of education. Basic Education funding is increased by $160 million and special education will see a $50 million increase. DiSanto said, “In my district, every school district will receive an increase.”   

HB 790 supports early education with Pre-K spending increasing by $25 million, HeadStart receiving a $5 million increase, and Early Intervention services receiving a $15 million increase.

Higher education institutions will also benefit from this budget with an across-the-board 2 percent increase in funding for community colleges, state-related universities (Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln) and the State System of Higher Education.

The budget protects Pennsylvania’s students and school staff by restoring the Governor’s $15 million cut to the Safe Schools program administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (back to $60 million) and increases the Safe School initiative under the Department of Education by $1 million to a total of $11 million.

The budget promotes workforce development and job training initiatives, including:

  • 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 New Choices/New Options by 50 percent ($250,000) from $500,000 to $750,000. In Dauphin and Perry County, this program is administered by P.R.O.B.E., Potential Reentry Opportunities in Business and Education, which has helped hundreds of displaced homemakers, single parents and survivors of abuse get the skills they needed to enter the workforce and become financially independent.

HB 790 restores all of the Governor’s proposed cuts impacting Pennsylvania’s farmers and increases the overall appropriation to the Department of Agriculture by 13 percent to $19.5 million. This additional money includes:

  • Two percent increases for Ag Research/Ag Extension and the University of Pennsylvania School for Veterinary Medicine.
  • New funding – Agricultural Business & Workforce Investment, $4.5 million; Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission (supplementing funding from the Race Horse Development Fund), $2 million; and, Livestock and Consumer Health Protection, $1 million.

The budget also includes increased support for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens, including

  • $1.3 billion (an increase of $34.0 million) for County Child Welfare.
  • $15 million to allow an additional 970 infants and toddlers to be served off the child care wait list.
  • $26.2 million to serve an additional 1,860 older Pennsylvanians through the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Aging Waiver.
  • $10.9 million to serve 840 additional individuals with physical disabilities in the Attendant Care Waiver.
  • $23.0 million to serve 1,380 additional individuals with physical disabilities in the Services to Persons with Disabilities Waivers.
  • An additional $8 million to assist high Medicaid populated nursing homes.
  • 2% rate increase for home care workers/personal care assistants.
  • 20% increased funding for Services for the Visually Disabled.
  • 10% increased funding for Domestic Violence $19.1 million ($1.7 million increase).
  • 10% increased funding for Rape Crisis $10.9 million ($1.0 million increase).

Importantly, as part of the budget package, the inheritance tax for transfers of property from parents to children under the age of 21 is being reduced from 4.5% to 0%. DiSanto said, “Taxing inheritances for young children whose parents have died is bad policy, and I am proud to have joined in eliminating it.”

HB 790 now goes to the Governor for enactment.

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801