Kirkland says governor’s budget address puts Pennsylvania’s students and workforce first

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland, D-Delaware, responded to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address calling this proposed spending plan a promising start.

Highlighting the governor’s call to increase basic education funding by $1.25 billion and allot $300 million in Level Up funding for the commonwealth’s 100 most underfunded districts, Kirkland said this would particularly benefit the schools he represents.

“Immorally, our school districts with the highest shares of Black and Hispanic students receive about $1,900 less than their fair share per student under the bipartisan fair funding formula. By reserving $300 million in Level Up funding, we can ensure that every student receives a quality education and work toward closing disparities within our public education system,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland said the governor’s recommendation to allot $60 million to Pre-K Counts and invest $10 million into Head Start programs could strongly benefit working families.

“Accessing affordable child care is among the biggest obstacles working families face today. If their children are not receiving quality care, parents can’t go to work,” he said.

Another way this proposal could benefit working families, Kirkland said, is by raising the minimum wage.

“Under this spending plan, Pennsylvania would join every one of its neighboring states and raise the minimum wage. If enacted, the governor’s proposal would instate a minimum wage of $12 an hour by July of this year and put us on the path to gradually increase that rate to $15 an hour. This raise is long overdue,” Kirkland said. “No one who works full time should struggle to provide for their family or pay their bills. We need to show our labor force that we respect the work they do by giving them a livable wage.”

To further develop Pennsylvania’s workforce, Kirkland said the spending plan would invest millions of additional state dollars into the state’s health care industry. To care for aging veterans, the budget would invest $14 million into the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to hire additional staff for its nursing facilities. This budget would also allot $75 million in federal funds to recruit and retain behavioral health providers and $50 million for the personal care home state supplement to help these facilities maintain adequate staffing levels.

“These investments in skilled nursing facilities prioritize our invaluable health care workers, residents who depend on high-quality care and Pennsylvania’s veterans. Additionally, this spending plan goes even further for our veterans as it includes suicide prevention and outreach programs.”

Kirkland concluded that one of the main reasons that he supports the governor’s spending plan is because it provides opportunities for working Pennsylvanians and underserved students without increasing taxes to achieve these goals.

“We’re in a position where we can put workers and students first without burdening our taxpayers. This proposed spending plan is a great start,” he said.

For more information, contact Kirkland’s office by calling 610-876-6420.