HARRISBURG, June 30, 2017 — The Pennsylvania Senate today approved a $31.99 billion state budget plan that, although austere, will move Pennsylvania forward, according to state Sen. Vincent Hughes, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“This budget is the result of a concerted effort to move Pennsylvania forward thoughtfully and responsibly,” said Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery). “Given today’s economic and political environment, we decided to work together to get something positive done.”
Hughes said the budget plan, which the Senate approved by a 43-7 vote, steered closer to Gov. Tom Wolf’s initial budget proposal and restored draconian cuts that were proposed during the budget negotiation process.
“The governor proposed an austere budget that was modest and it attempted to address our social and political reality. Throughout the budget process, we had significant conversations with all parties to get us to a point where we came close to the governor’s proposal,” Hughes said. “We restored cuts made in the House Republican plan, we were thoughtful about how we restructure government and we presented a foundation for the future.”
The 2017-18 Fiscal Year state budget invests an additional $100 million in basic education, which almost fully restores the deep, disastrous cuts to education from the previous administration, as well as $25 million for special education, $25 million for Pre-k, $5 million for Head Start, $11 million for Early Intervention and $8.9 million for higher education.
The budget also invests in the economy by supporting state programs that focus on job creation, economic development and the agricultural industry.
The spending plan paves the way to merge the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Human Services, as well as merge the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole — a plan spearheaded by the Senate Democrats. The consolidations will save taxpayer dollars and streamline services for our most vulnerable citizens. It also continues to address the opioid epidemic through additional investments in drug and alcohol programs.