After Governor Shapiro signed the General Appropriation bill today, the Pennsylvania Policy Center released the following statement by our executive director, Marc Stier:
“Today, Senate Republicans blinked in the budget standoff with Governor Shapiro and Democrats. Thanks to the increasing pressure from social service providers and school districts worried about the delay in receiving state funding and the public, which supports them, the Republican leadership agreed today to bring the Senate back to session to allow the General Fund appropriations bill to be sent to Governor Shapiro. The Governor just signed it after issuing his promised line-item veto of $100 million for the voucher program.
Today’s action does not mean that the 2023–24 budget is complete, however. In Pennsylvania, what we call “code bills” are needed to authorize some of the spending in the appropriation bills, including the Level Up program, which provides additional funding for the least-well funded schools in the Commonwealth; the Whole-Home Repairs program, which helps low- and moderate-income families fix up their homes; and funding for Governor Shapiro’s welcome initiatives for school mental health programs and indigent defense. We call on the Senate and House to reach an agreement on authorizing the expenditure of these funds as soon as possible.
The budget is also incomplete without appropriations for the four state-related universities: Penn State University, Temple University, Lincoln University, and the University of Pittsburgh. Students from Pennsylvania at these universities will see a dramatic increase in tuition if the General Assembly does not enact funding for them.
We are glad that the General Appropriation bill is now law. But we cannot applaud this budget as a whole. At a time when the state has an accumulated surplus of $13 billion, this budget should do far more to meet the constitutional mandate to fully and fairly fund our K-12 schools.
The budget that was passed by House Democrats in early June and supported by Senate Democrats did far more for our schools and included other initiatives that Senate Republicans have rejected, including
- the creation of a state earned income tax to help families with low incomes.
- more funding for subsidized child care and pre-K education.
- additional funding for gun violence prevention, which is reduced from last year’s level in the current budget at a time when those programs are are having a positive impact in cities around the state.
- new funding called for by a state commission last year for adult mental health.
Other critical needs of Pennsylvanians have not received sufficient funding in the 2023-24 budget including the parents of 90,000 3 and 4 year olds who do not have access to pre-k education.
And, Pennsylvania workers are still waiting for a long overdue increase in the state minimum wage. While raising the minimum wage is not done through budget legislation, it does have an impact on the budget by both reducing expenditures and increasing revenues.”