July 5, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kirstin Snow, firstname.lastname@example.org
Penn Policy Center Statement on Budget Passage
Governor Shapiro’s letter announcing that he would line-item veto the appropriation for vouchers in the budget passed by the Senate last week clears the way for the House to also pass the budget and send it to the Governor for his signature.
Enacting a budget that doesn’t include a voucher plan is a victory, especially because that plan would have likely been a first step toward the destruction of public education in Pennsylvania. We are grateful to Democrats in both the House and the Senate for standing strong against vouchers.
Sadly, while the enacted budget is likely the best that can be achieved at this date, it is not a good one. While it includes bout a 5% increase in total spending, after taking inflation into account, the increase is not substantial. If not for what House Majority Leader Matt Bradford aptly called the “distraction” of the voucher issue, Governor Shapiro could and should have worked more closely with the Democrats in the legislature to reach an agreement with Senate Republicans on a better budget, one closer to the budget passed by the House a month ago. Such a budget would have:
- provided the additional funding for basic education, special education, the Level Up program, and the remediation of toxic schools needed to meet the requirement of the Commonwealth Court decision on school funding.
- invested more than an additional $50 million in the Whole-Home Repairs program.
- provided more funding for subsidized child care and pre-K education.
- excluded a cut in funds for gun violence prevention, at a time when those programs have had some positive impact in cities around the state.
- included a long overdue increase in the minimum wage in our state.
And at this point, the General Assembly has not passed funding for Temple, Pitt, and Penn State, which means that in-state tuitions at those institutions, which is already among the highest in the country, will skyrocket.
These and many other needed public investments in higher education, —which we will detail in a more complete review of the budget in a few weeks—could have been paid for by the accumulated $13 billion surplus without raising taxes on Pennsylvanians.
So while avoiding the worst outcome, this budget fails to deliver all that Pennsylvanians need from our state government. Democrats in the General Assembly and the House Democratic leadership did step forward this year and enacted a far better budget than we have seen in many years. But they didn’t get the help they needed from the governor to get their plans enacted against the opposition of Senate Republicans.
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