For Immediate Release
Contact: Kirstin Snow, Communications Director, email@example.com; 215-510-9336
Harrisburg, PA–Marc Stier, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Policy Center, today released the following statement after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 611, a 2023-24 General Fund Budget, on party line vote.
“In March, Governor Shapiro proposed a budget that had the right priorities but proposed too little spending in certain key areas, including K-12 education, workforce development, and housing. The budget passed by the House of Representatives today follows the governor’s priorities but adds spending in areas we believe deserved additional support. That spending is supported by additional revenue expected in both the current fiscal year and in years 2023-24.
Going beyond the governor’s budget proposal, the House budget includes:
· An additional $100 million in basic education funding
· A $225 million Level Up supplement to the 108 most underfunded school districts in the state.
· An additional $50 million for Special Education.
· An additional $250 million for school facilities maintenance and improvements.
· An additional $30 million for job training programs and $14 million for career and technical education.
· $200 million for an expansion of the Whole Home Repairs program.
· An additional $52 million for general support, facilities support for PASSHE schools; and $24 for PHEAA grants for students.
· An additional $66 million for community and economic assistance programs and $30 million for the Keystone Communities program.
· An additional $45 million for childcare services and assistance.
The first five items in the list constitute a strong down payment on the spending that will be necessary to meet the constitutional requirement to provide an adequate education to every child in Pennsylvania. The sixth item—funding for job training—is, we believe, a critical investment for Pennsylvania workers and our economy. And the seventh item, the addition to the Whole Home Repairs program, will take an additional step forward in helping low- and moderate-income Pennsylvanians deal with the current crisis in affordable housing.
Despite these welcome additions to Governor Shapiro’s proposal, this is a fiscally responsible budget plan. The state remains on pace to have a more than $13 billion budget surplus at the end of the current fiscal year, including an $8 billion operating surplus and over $5 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. This is a far greater surplus than is necessary or reasonable to maintain. The House budget for 2023-24 expects an ending balance of $5.6 billion before additions to the Rainy Day Fund, essentially the ending balance the governor proposed in March. The additional funding proposed by the Appropriations Committee is supported by higher revenue expectations for the current fiscal year ($663 million) and Fiscal year 2023-24 ($461 million) compared to the governor’s March projections. These higher revenue expectations are based on the IFO’s recent projections and are in keeping with both recent revenues and consensus estimates for growth in the Pennsylvania economy over the next year.
In addition, the House passed proposes to add an additional $558.7 million to the Rainy Day Fund. The governor’s budget did not propose adding anything to the Rainy Day Fund. If this budget is adopted, at the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year, that is on June 30, 2024, the state will still have an accumulated surplus of over $10.5 billion, including a General Fund operating surplus of $5 billion and a $5.7 billion Rainy Day Fund.
Given the large surplus, the higher than expected revenues, and the urgent needs of Pennsylvanians—including the need to fully and fairly fund our schools—it would be irresponsible not to enact a budget along the lines passed by the House Appropriations Committee. We commend Chairman Harris and the Democrats who devised this proposal. We hope that the Republicans who opposed it will reconsider when the bill comes to the floor of the House and the Senate.”
The Pennsylvania Policy Center aims through its research and policy development to create the tools political officials, opinion leaders, grassroots organizations, and the people of Pennsylvania need to expand our vibrant democracy, secure our freedom, and seek economic justice in Pennsylvania.