Senate Passes Fourth Budget to Send to Governor
Working to restore money slashed by Governor Wolf’s line-item vetoes, the Senate today approved, again, an appropriations bill by a vote of 31-18 that would close the Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget. House Bill 1801, the fourth budget sent to the Governor, restores $6 billion in funding for essential programs and services and provides for $30.03 billion in total spending. Said Senator Brooks, “This budget represents an approximate three percent increase over Fiscal Year 2014-15 levels. For those who say it is not enough, ask how many hard working families and senior citizens are receiving a three percent increase in their income?”
As amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and approved by the full Senate on Wednesday, HB 1801 provides approximately $450 million increase in education spending which includes a $150 million increase to basic education, $50 million increase for Ready to Learn Block Grants, a $30 million increase in special education and a $30 million increase to pre-kindergarten and early education. Further, the budget package includes an approximate five percent increase for higher education, which equates to roughly $60.2 million. The State spends approximately 40 percent of its budget on education. Said Senator Brooks, “This is a substantial investment in educating our children, especially in a time when families are struggling and we are in a challenging economy.” (as a side note, the state did not cut $1 billion for education in previous years, it was a loss of federal stimulus dollars)
This budget also funds important items such as critical care access hospitals, like in Titusville and Corry, county social service programs and regional cancer institutes.
HB 1801 would provide approximately $50.5 million for agricultural extension and research and 4-H that are currently in jeopardy since they were defunded by the Governor’s line-item vetoes. Further, funding for county and community fairs is reinstated at Fiscal Year 2014-15 levels, which is funded through the Racehorse Development Fund and not through tax revenues.
As a colleague of mine said, it takes 129 people to enact a law, including a majority of the members of the House (102), a majority in the members in the Senate (26) and the Governor (1). To date, 128 of the 129 have agreed four times to pass a budget.
“It is my hope the Governor ends this impasse and the issues it has created for our schools, our agriculture, critical care access hospitals and so many others by signing this budget”, said Senator Brooks.
HB 1801 returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.Contact:
Senate Box 203050