State Budget Holds the Line on Taxes, Spending
Every year, my goal during the budget process is to support a plan that spends only the revenues we have available so we can avoid tax increases that could hurt Pennsylvania families and small businesses. I am pleased to report that we accomplished that goal this year with a bipartisan budget agreement that doesn’t require new taxes and holds the overall growth in state spending below the rate of inflation.
Pennsylvania schools were one of the biggest beneficiaries in the budget. An additional $100 million was included for K-12 education, plus $25 million more for Pre-K Counts and Head Start, and $15 million in new funding for Special Education. $25 million was added to the Educational Improvement Tax Credits program to help more students who are currently trapped in failing schools.
An additional $30 million was also dedicated for Career and Technical Education (CTE) to ensure Pennsylvania’s workforce keeps pace with the demands of the labor market.
Amendments to the School Code that were passed along with the budget also included a proposal I authored to help attract and retain quality CTE instructors. The plan makes continuing education requirements for CTE teachers in Pennsylvania more competitive with other states, eliminating a number of required courses that had no bearing on the subject matter taught in the classroom.
The budget also made an historic investment in school safety with more than $60 million in new funding for initiatives to provide a safe environment for students.
More information about the budget is available here.
I enjoyed speaking with these educators and Millersville graduate educational leadership students last week at my Capitol office.
Senate Approves Package of Bills Focused on Agriculture
The Senate approved a package of measures last week designed to promote Pennsylvania’s top industry — agriculture.
I sponsored two of the resolutions in the package that highlighted the dairy industry. One of them designated June as Dairy Month in Pennsylvania, and another encouraged the federal Food and Drug Administration to end the practice of companies using misleading labeling on non-dairy products. Another resolution I cosponsored would require a study of potential initiatives to assist dairy producers in Pennsylvania in the future.
The Senate also approved legislation I sponsored to ensure agritourism activities – such as farm tours, hay rides and corn mazes – are authorized on farms that are part of the state’s farmland preservation program. An additional measure approved last week would give farmers more input on proposed environmental regulations that could affect their businesses.
More information about some of these bills is available here.
In addition, the state budget restored $2 million in proposed cuts to the Department of Agriculture and devoted an additional $7 million over the current year’s budget, including $3 million to combat the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species that threatens the grape, hops and logging industries.
Celebrating Our Independence
The Fourth of July offers every American an opportunity to reflect on our freedoms and the values that helped build our nation. I hope all community residents have a safe and enjoyable holiday.