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Senate Sends Fiscally Responsible Budget to the Governor
The Senate approved a $30.1 billion state budget this week, sending the bill to Governor Wolf’s desk. In addition to addressing the state’s looming pension crisis and privatizing the sale of wine and liquor, the budget includes more than $200 million in new resources for education.
The spending plan accomplishes all of these things without the need for a tax increase.
The budget created by the General Assembly represents a reasonable and responsible allocation of state resources that stands in stark contrast to Governor Wolf’s call for $12 billion in new taxes over the next two years. Passage of this budget sends a strong signal that state government is perfectly capable of investing in our shared priorities without gouging the taxpayer.
Throughout the budget process, many advocates have called on lawmakers to increase the amount of resources that are devoted to students. The best way we can accomplish that goal is by reforming a pension system that has devoured all new funding devoted to education over the past several years. This approach will ensure any new funding devoted to education is not dedicated exclusively to a pension system that taxpayers cannot afford.
The pension reform plan would fully protect all benefits earned by retirees and current employees. All new hires would be placed into a new 401k-style defined contribution plan that will ensure public-sector employees can enjoy retirement benefits that mirror those offered in the private sector without shouldering taxpayers with the unaffordable long-term costs of the current system.
In addition to addressing the pension crisis and removing the state from the wholesale liquor business, the budget invests in a number of local priorities of interest. Each school district in the 36th Senatorial District will receive an increase is state funding, and additional support is included to monitor and prevent the spread of the highly pathogenic avian flu, which is of immediate concern for the poultry industry and the agriculture community as a whole.
Although the governor originally threatened to veto a budget he hadn’t yet read because it did not satisfy his desire for new revenues, I am hopeful he will do what is best for Pennsylvanians and sign this budget as soon as possible. Lawmakers and state residents have soundly rejected his approach of massive tax and spending hikes. Should he chose to veto all or part of this budget, the onus is on Governor Wolf to present a new way forward and not the same old failed strategy of demanding that more of our hard-earned dollars are sent to Harrisburg.
I encourage local residents to contact the governor and urge him to sign the budget in its current form.
Budget Plan Highlights
Senate Box 203036