HARRISBURG – The state Senate approved a $40.8 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 on Friday that supports Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while providing a financial safety net for the future, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), who voted for measure. Senate Bill 255 now goes to the governor’s desk for enactment into law.
“This is a responsible budget that prioritizes fiscal responsibility and protects taxpayers, while also investing in our communities and schools,” Sen. Yaw said. “It supports highway and bridge improvements, restores all of the governor’s proposed cuts in funding for agricultural programs, and makes a strong commitment to our teachers and students. The budget also does not include any of the tax increases proposed by the governor in February, including a 46 percent Personal Income Tax hike.”
While Pennsylvania is on pace to end the current fiscal year with $2.5 billion in surplus revenue, Senate Republicans cautioned that the revenue projections for the current fiscal year were made as Pennsylvania was coping with the financial devastation caused by the global pandemic and the governor’s business closure orders.
Despite a significant rebound in revenues and the availability of federal stimulus funds
to help balance the budget, lawmakers must remain vigilant and pragmatic because Pennsylvania’s mandated spending growth still outpaces its revenue growth and the Commonwealth cannot depend on continued federal funding.
The budget provides a three-tier approach to create a strong financial safety net for coming years:
All $2.5 billion in surplus FY 2020-21 funds will be allocated to the Rainy Day Fund, augmenting the current $240 million balance in that account.
$2.5 billion in projected surplus revenue from FY 2021-22 will be used to balance next year’s budget.
$2.6 billion of remaining federal funding will also be used to help balance next year’s budget.
Senate Republicans recognize the importance of all Pennsylvania schools and the vital role they play in ensuring today’s students are given the tools to be competitive in the 21st Century global marketplace and be productive members of our communities.
To that end, the budget includes $300 million more for Basic Education Funding, $50 million more for Special Education, $25 million more for Pre-K programs and $5 million more for Head Start.
The budget allocates $279 million in federal funding to support highway and bridge improvement projects. This will enable the Commonwealth to address its deteriorating transportation network while supporting employers and creating family sustaining jobs.
A total of $282 million in federal money is directed to supporting Pennsylvania’s nursing homes ($247 million) and assisted care facilities and personal care homes ($30 million), many of which were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, $5 million will provide for ventilation improvements.
The budget includes $50 million to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for construction cost relief, to help builders of low-income housing cope with the increased costs of materials caused by the pandemic and $5 million to the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund to offset revenue losses caused by the pandemic.
For more state-related news and information, visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.