(HARRISBURG) – The Pennsylvania Senate has passed Senate Bill 1100, a $45.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23, that meets the current needs of Pennsylvanians, without creating multi-billion-dollar budget deficits in the future. The budget also includes federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and spends $500 million less than Gov. Tom Wolf’s original budget request.
The budget was signed into law on July 8, according to Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), who voted in support of SB 1100 and emphasized the substantial investments that will be seen locally as a result of the spending plan.
“No budget process is ever identical or disagreement free. The new state budget involved balancing a broader set of needs and concerns than ordinary. To begin, there was more revenue available than anticipated, due to federal pandemic relief funds and better than projected state revenue collections. But this is not money that can be counted on in succeeding years, so to spend it all would be fiscally reckless.
“At the same time, spending pressure and requests were heavier than usual. This is Governor Wolf’s final budget, so he was eager to engage in legacy spending. The overall spending level is higher than I would prefer, but that is where extensive negotiation brought us. A prolonged budget stalemate when there is no need to raise taxes or engage in spending cuts is unjustifiable.
“There are serious program needs carrying over from pandemic restrictions, which need to be addressed. So, all the money cannot be set aside in anticipation of tougher times ahead, because the tough times for families and communities are here now.
“There is new money in this budget for items that constituents tell me are top concerns. This includes increased money for classroom instruction, special education, and school security, improved access to mental health services in schools and across communities, and expanded affordable housing options.
“Additional funds are put toward community law enforcement and crime prevention. This includes support for local law enforcement, anti-violence strategies, and approaches to curb gun violence. These are intended to get at the root of what is needed to bolster community security and safety, rather than risky moves such as taking funding away from police.
“The pandemic proved that we must provide more state money for the individuals in professions that families rely on for support. Notable examples are nurses and childcare workers. This helps with worker retention and attraction. As employers make decisions as to options for individuals to work remotely on a full or part-time basis, the support systems of child or elder care are adjusting accordingly. Families need access to affordable and quality care options.
“As a graduate of Shippensburg University, I recognize the opportunities our public universities offer for students and the positive impact the schools have on the regions they serve. Having undergone programmatic overhauls and two mergers, the state universities qualified for extra funding above the usual to bolster enrollment and better prepare students for success in the workplace.
“Many times, areas such as water quality, conservation, and recreation typically fall lower on the priority list for funding than education, health care, and transportation. This year was the time to pay more attention to these programs, as the pandemic compelled more people to spend more time in woods and on waters, and to thus become more committed to improving facilities and ensuring our natural resources are properly protected.”
More details regarding the 2022-2023 State Budget are available at: https://www.pasenategop.com/state-budget/.