House Democrats stand ready to work with all parties to lead Pennsylvania from addiction to recovery

You likely know someone who is affected by prescription drug or heroin addiction. Indeed, Pennsylvania's opioid and heroin epidemic is a public health crisis.

Heroin and opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in Pennsylvania, killing more people each year than car crashes. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, about 2,500 Pennsylvanians died from overdoses of opioid drugs in 2014. This epidemic crosses all social, geographic and political lines, and impacts every community.  

It’s why House Democratic and Republican lawmakers, along with Gov. Tom Wolf, stood together in solidarity this week to detail legislative progress made to date, outline more recommendations made by a special task force created to tackle the issue, and discuss plans for a special session this fall to focus lawmakers’ attention on combatting the opioid addiction crisis.

Gov. Wolf is seeking $34 million in the 2016-17 state budget being negotiated right now to assist more than 11,000 Pennsylvanians who need access to treatment for substance abuse. This money, combined with $18 million in matching federal funds would provide $50 million to operate 50 Centers of Excellence to provide treatment and other services across the state. Another $12 million for the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs would support and sustain current treatment efforts. People are at risk right now and continue to die in Pennsylvania every day. We need full budget funding for opioid addiction treatment this year.

House Democrats stand ready to work with all parties to lead Pennsylvania from addiction to recovery. If you or someone you love is addicted to pain medication or heroin, please visit the Pa. Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs website at https://apps.ddap.pa.gov/gethelpnow/.

Bipartisan budget negotiations continue

Progress continues on the 2016-17 state budget. House Democrats remain optimistic for an on-time, balanced budget that continues to restore previous education cuts and prevents Pennsylvania's $1.5 billion structural deficit from growing even worse. Even in times of tight budgets, Pennsylvania cannot abandon its commitment to education or risk more credit downgrades, which hurt our economy and force backdoor tax increases on our residents.

The Pennsylvania constitution gives the legislature the responsibility of fairly and adequately funding schools. But schools across the state are still struggling under the impact of the $1 billion in cuts made in 2011.

Gov. Wolf and House Democrats continue to make significant compromises with Republicans in order to get a balanced budget done on time. For the sake of our kids and communities, we continue to advocate for an increase in basic education funding, plus additional investments in special education and early childhood education.

This investment won’t fully restore the previous cuts, but it will keep us on track to do so, reduce the need for more local property tax increases, and move Pennsylvania in the right direction on its commitment to a quality education for all students.