HARRISBURG – State Rep. Mike Puskaric (R-Allegheny/Washington) today voted for the balanced, timely state budget approved by the state House that would increase funding for the core functions of government without raising taxes.
The nearly $34 billion spending plan represents an increase of 1.8% compared to the current state budget.
“We have experienced economic growth in Pennsylvania, which resulted in increased revenues and enabled us to balance the budget without further burdening taxpayers,” said Puskaric. “This budget takes a historic step by committing 100% of the General Fund balance at the end of June 2019, which is estimated to be at least $250 million, to be transferred into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. By saving money, this budget protects taxpayers from future tax increases.”
PreK-12 education funding is increased by $432 million, to the highest levels in state history. Special education funding would be increased by $50 million, while career and technical education would increase by $10 million, with separate increases for some of our highest-performing technical schools, to help their pathways to success be utilized across the Commonwealth. Also, the budget provides an additional $25 million for the expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. EITC provides tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to a scholarship organization, an educational improvement organization, and/or a PreK scholarship organization.
“Our school districts wanted more money for education, and we gave it to them,” said Puskaric. “The Bentworth, Bethel Park, Elizabeth Forward, Ringgold, South Park and West Jefferson Hills school districts will see their state funding amounts increase.”
Puskaric noted that we want to make sure our students feel safe and are able to learn. With that in mind, $60 million will be allocated for school safety in the form of a block grant for which schools need merely apply. Doing it in this manner allows them to make choices in how they want to address their individual safety needs as opposed to mandating a statewide blueprint.
“Emergency medical service providers that are struggling to make ends meet would receive additional money to compensate for reimbursement shortfalls,” said Puskaric. “As part of our budget, there is an additional $26.3 million for mental health services, which includes funds to provide home and community-based services for individuals currently residing in state hospitals.”
The lawmaker added, “Throughout this year’s budget process, my colleagues and I have been focused on bigger-picture thinking – growing Pennsylvania’s economy and plotting a new course forward for our state, along with initiatives that go far beyond just this fiscal year. While taking part in the state budget process for the first time as a state representative, my priorities are to protect the citizens and job creators of the 39th District from unnecessary government growth and ensure our schools and core government services received sufficient support. I am pleased this budget matches those priorities.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.