HARRISBURG – The state Senate today approved a 2015-16 state budget that boosts education funding and funds essential state services without raising taxes or implementing a state severance tax, said Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).
The plan, House Bill 1192, was passed in advance of the June 30th constitutional deadline to enact a state budget. It also includes two key fundamental changes to the state’s pension and liquor systems.
“This budget increases support for education without the governor’s proposed $12 billion in tax hikes over the next two years,” said Yaw. “Like families across the Senate District I represent, state government must live within its means, and this budget represents that approach.”
The budget contains:
- $100 million new state dollars for basic education that is combined with reforms to the basic education funding formula and improvements in accountability.
- $20 million for special education.
- $30 million for early education, including Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
- $300 million in savings for the state and school districts to pay for capital improvements.
- $41 million across the board for higher education.
- $10 million to increase home and community-based services for 1,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities on a waiting list and 75 individuals in institutions on a waiting list.
- $27 million to expand the number of individuals served through the Home and Community-Based Services (3,750), Services to Persons with Disabilities (1,100) and Attendant Care programs (660).
The budget includes savings that will be realized by privatizing the sale of wine and liquor, and by reforming the state pension systems. Pension costs are the number one cause of property tax hikes and school cutbacks.
“This budget represents a fiscally responsible approach to allocating state resources,” Yaw said. “Passage of this budget sends a strong signal that state government can and should live within its means, rather than mortgaging our future through higher spending and more taxes that Pennsylvanians cannot afford. In addition, through the passage of pension reform legislation, we are ensuring that this new funding will not be drained away to pay for a pension system that taxpayers cannot afford”
Yaw urged the Governor to sign the budget as soon as possible to ensure that programs and services are not interrupted.
“Lawmakers and state residents have soundly rejected the governor’s call for massive tax and spending hikes, in addition to a tax on natural gas production in Pennsylvania,” Yaw said. “Should he choose to veto all or part of this budget, it is up to Gov. Wolf to present a realistic alternative – not the failed strategy of demanding that taxpayers send more of their hard-earned dollars to Harrisburg.”
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