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 Tom McGarrigle (R-26).
“Because we have kept our commitment to holding the line on spending and taxes and embracing conservative budgeting over the past few years, we find ourselves on stronger financial footing than in any year in recent memory,” McGarrigle said. “While keeping spending to below the rate of inflation, we are also making a historic investment in all levels of education and providing more money to help seniors, the disabled and those affected by the opioid crisis.”
The budget also includes $60 million in new money for initiatives to protect schools and students from violence, an issue that McGarrigle has been on the forefront of in recent months.
He is sponsor of legislation to increase the ability of school districts to hire professionals to focus on the mental health needs of their students – one of the initiatives that will be funded through the new grant money.
“School districts would be able to apply for grants to undertake both of these important services, as well as pay for physical upgrades to school buildings and campuses, hire school security guards and implement education programs to address school violence,” McGarrigle said. “Our goal is to ensure local control to allow each school district to evaluate its needs and vulnerabilities and apply for funding to shore up any weaknesses that exist.”
In addition to the school safety funding, a significant part of the additional spending in the budget 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.
Other highlights include 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.
“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,” McGarrigle said. “But with those challenges come new opportunities that could set our Commonwealth on the path to a brighter economic future.”
CONTACT: Mike Radar (717) 787-1350