Pennsylvania House Passes Bipartisan Budget That Delivers on Governor Shapiro’s Key Priorities, Makes Historic, Commonsense Investments to Create a Stronger Economy, Safer and Healthier Communities, and Better Schools

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Pennsylvania House Passes Bipartisan Budget That Delivers on Governor Shapiro’s Key Priorities, Makes Historic, Commonsense Investments to Create a Stronger Economy, Safer and Healthier Communities, and Better Schools

The bipartisan budget delivers on many of Governor Shapiro’s key proposals, including the largest increase in Basic Education Funding in Pennsylvania history, state funding for indigent defense for the first time, and significant investments in public safety, workforce & economic development, and agriculture.

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 611, a budget bill for fiscal year 2023-24, which delivers on Governor Josh Shapiro’s commonsense proposals to solve the most pressing issues Pennsylvanians face. Governor Shapiro plans to sign this budget bill, accomplishing many of the priorities he laid out in March during his budget address, including historic funding for public K-12 basic education, significant investments in workforce development, new funding for community and economic development, and critical investments in agriculture and public safety.

Governor Shapiro’s first budget marks a significant step in his work to create an economy that works for all, make Pennsylvania communities safer, and ensure every Pennsylvania child has access to a quality education.

Knowing that the House and Senate will not reach consensus at this time to enact the PASS scholarship program and unwilling to hold up our entire budget process over this issue, the Governor plans to line-item veto the full $100 million appropriation for that program.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities – and with new investments in students, teachers, seniors, moms, families, farmers, workers, cops, emergency responders, business owners, and more, this is a budget for all Pennsylvanians,” said Governor Shapiro. “Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation with a full-time, divided legislature – meaning nothing gets done unless it can make it through our Republican-led Senate and our Democratic-led House. I’m proud that this budget – one that makes historic investments in public education, public safety, workforce development, agriculture, and economic development – passed both the House and Senate, and I look forward to signing it.”

In March, Governor Shapiro presented his first budget proposal to the people of Pennsylvania with proposed investments to lower costs for Pennsylvanians, support businesses and speed up permitting, help older adults stay in their homes, invest in public education, protect and strengthen communities, and safeguard our environment.

Today, the House also voted to pass HB 1100, which mirrors Governor Shapiro’s proposed expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. As a result of this expansion – the first for the program since 2006 – nearly 175,000 more Pennsylvanians will qualify and many of the 400,000 seniors who already qualify will see their rebates nearly double, with future increases to the program being tied to inflation.

Historic $1 Billion Investment in K-12 Public Education

This budget makes a $1 billion investment in K-12 public schools, including the largest increase in the Basic Education Funding (BEF) Formula in Pennsylvania history. Thanks to this budget, for the first time ever, Pennsylvania will spend over $10 billion on K-12 public education funding. This budget includes:

  • $567 million in basic education funding for Pennsylvania school districts to be distributed through the Basic Education Funding (BEF) Formula, enabling all school districts to have the basic resources they need to provide a high-quality education for Pennsylvania students.  This is the largest BEF increase in history.
  • $100 million increase to Level Up to ensure more resources go to Pennsylvania’s most underfunded schools.
  • $50 million in special education funding, reinforcing Pennsylvania’s commitment to equitable education for all students.
  • $125 million in school safety and environmental improvement grants so all children have the opportunity to grow and learn in safe, healthy environments.
  • A $46.5 million increase in funding to provide universal free breakfast to Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students regardless of income and free lunch to all 22,000 Pennsylvania students who are eligible for reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.
  • $10 million to provide Pennsylvania’s student teachers with annual stipends.
  • $7 million to support dual enrollment opportunities for high school students.

Historic Investments in Community & Economic Development

This budget spurs job creation, fosters innovation, and provides the funding to make Pennsylvania more competitive on a national scale. This budget also invests in communities across the Commonwealth, supporting historically disadvantaged businesses and helping Pennsylvanians maintain safe, healthy homes. This budget includes:

  • A $50 million investment in the Whole-Home Repairs program, taking a burden off the shoulders of those living paycheck to paycheck while ensuring they can afford to maintain their homes.
  • A $20 million investment to fund the Historically Disadvantaged Business Program to invest in small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses in the Commonwealth and provide sustainable support.
  • A $13 million investment to make Pennsylvania more competitive on a national scale and help the Commonwealth become a leader in economic development, innovation, and job creation.
  • A $2 million investment in the Municipal Assistance Program to help the local, municipal, and county governments that are on the frontlines of supporting their communities and a $1.25 million increase for the Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP) to help local governments create long-term plans for financial success.
  • A $1 million investment in the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program, which connects Pennsylvania’s universities with businesses to spur innovation and job creation here in the Commonwealth. 

Funding Indigent Defense for the First Time Ever

Previously, Pennsylvania was one of only two states in the country that did not allocate state funding for indigent defense, but that changes with this budget. This budget invests:

·       $7.5 million to fund indigent defense for the first time in Pennsylvania history, ensuring public defenders have the resources they need to provide legal representation to defendants who cannot pay for it on their own.

Expanding Apprenticeships & Vocational and Technical Education

Building off the Governor’s Executive Order announcing that 92 percent of state government jobs are open to Pennsylvanians without college degrees, this budget would ensure more Pennsylvanians have the freedom to chart their own course by expanding our workforce, investing in vo-tech, and supporting apprenticeship programs, including:

·       A $23.5 million investment in workforce training and vo-tech programs.

·       A $6 million investment in apprenticeship and pre-apprentice programming that will lead to family-sustaining wages.

·       $3.5 million in funding for the Schools-to-Work Program through the Department of Labor & Industry to develop and expand career pathways for high school students via partnerships between schools, employers, organizations, and the Commonwealth.

Cutting Red Tape and Improving the Commonwealth’s Licensing and Permitting Processes

Governor Shapiro is committed to making government work more effectively and efficiently to serve Pennsylvanians. This budget aims to address delays in state licensing, permitting, and certification processes and cut red tape for businesses, and includes:

  • $2.91 million to create the Office of Transformation and Opportunity, a one-stop-shop for businesses looking to grow and contribute to aggressively reigniting Pennsylvania’s economy.
  • $6.4 million to modernize permitting processes at the Department of Environmental Protection and clear permit backlogs.

Investing in Mental Health, Addressing Maternal Mortality, & Supporting EMS and Health Care Providers 

This budget makes critical investments in public health and wellness, including significant investments in mental health and the first-ever investment in addressing maternal mortality, including:

  • A $66.7 million increase for Child Care Services allowing up to 75,000 low-income families to continue to be enrolled in subsidized childcare through the Child Care Works Program.
  • $50 million into the Hospital and Healthsystem Emergency Relief Fund to support the vital work of hospitals.
  • $20.7 million to increase mileage rates for ambulance services, protecting access to healthcare and ensuring that EMS workers and first responders are properly reimbursed for the critical care they provide.
  • $20 million to increase base funding for counties to provide critical mental health services and address deepening workforce shortages.
  • $2.3 million to expand maternal health programming to allow for implementation of prevention strategies to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.
  • Funding to help an additional 850 individuals with an intellectual disability and/or autism get off waitlists for home and community-based services.
  • $5 million in funding for the Help at Home (OPTIONS) program through the Department of Aging, to reduce the waitlist of seniors seeking services that will allow them to stay in their homes.
  • A $1 million investment in grants for Senior Community Centers to improve safety and accessibility, repair or replace essential equipment, and invest in technology supplies to continue creating safe spaces for older Pennsylvanians to gather and socialize.

Repairing Our Infrastructure While Supporting Law Enforcement

To ensure Pennsylvanians are and feel safe in their communities, this budget ensures that Pennsylvania police departments are well-staffed, well-funded, well-trained, and well-equipped and prioritizes public safety while making more funding available for our infrastructure needs, including:

·       Sustainable funding for the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) through the General Fund, reducing PSP’s reliance on the Motor License Fund (MLF) over the next four years.

·       $16.4 million in new funding for four trooper cadet classes in FY 23-24, to train 384 new troopers, fill staffing gaps, provide more coverage, and ensure that Pennsylvania State Police are well-funded and well-trained.

·       $40 million in state funding for the Violence Intervention and Prevention program – housed in the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – to address community violence throughout the Commonwealth.

·       $355,000 for a new unit within the Department of Corrections, run by the Secretary of the Board of Pardons, to address backlogs in the pardons process and help second chances come sooner. 

·       A $250,000 increase to support the It’s On Us PA initiative – which aims to create an environment where sexual violence is unacceptable and survivors are supported – and to keep college students across Pennsylvania safe from campus sexual assault.

Making Critical Investments in the Future of Pennsylvania Agriculture

Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector is a major economic driver for the Commonwealth, contributing $132 billion a year to the economy and supporting over 580,000 jobs in Pennsylvania – this budget invests:

  • $34 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the hi-path avian influenza crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed for losses to their flocks.
  • $2 million in the Fresh Food Financing Initiative that will contribute to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods.
  • $2 million to fund the State Food Purchase Program to provide state funds for emergency food assistance for low-income Pennsylvanians.
  • $1 million to create a new Organic Center of Excellence, one of the first-of-its kind, to empower and support organic farmers and businesses.

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