Harrisburg, June 29th, 2016 – State Senator Vincent Hughes today voted with the majority of the Pennsylvania Senate to pass a $31.53 billion General Fund budget. The bill offers an on-time budget that contains a modest increase funding for public education and makes other investments. The bill, which passed the Senate 47 to 3, will now be sent back to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for concurrence.

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[divider top=”0″] “This budget represents a bipartisan compromise that delivers an increase in funding for education in a very difficult fiscal and political climate,” said Senator Hughes. “There were many people who wanted to do nothing for our public schools. That is why I have joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make this on-time budget a reality.”

The $31.53 billion budget contains a $250 million increase in funding for education. This includes $200 million for basic education, $30 million for Pre-K and Head Start, and $20 million increase for special education. This represents the beginning of restoring more than $1 billion cut from public education under the previous administration.
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[divider top=”0″] “This budget also increases funding for higher education, while others sought a spending agreement that contained no increase,” said Senator Hughes. “I have been steadfast since the beginning of this process that I would only support a budget that contained increased funding for education. There is still a significant amount of work to be done, but this budget represents a step forward.”

The budget passed by the Senate also includes new investments in social programs and human services. It contains $15 million to combat opiod abuse, $1.4 million for Zika Virus prevention, $506,000 increase for services for victims of domestic violence, and a $289,000 increase for rape crises centers. There is also a significant increase of $630,000 for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

“The spending plan passed by the Senate makes modest and sensible increases,” said Senator Hughes. “This stands in contrast to others who sought a more austere state budget.”

The budget agreement passed the Pennsylvania Senate one day before the deadline of June 30th, which is the end of the fiscal year. This is a major improvement over the previous year, which saw the longest budget standoff in the history of Pennsylvania. The on-time budget means that school districts, social service agencies, and non-profit organizations will be able to provide vital services without any disruption.