Proposed budget aims to help Pennsylvania’s future

Recently, Gov. Tom Wolf held his annual state budget address in Harrisburg to discuss his proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. From diverse investments into education and the formation of a workforce command center to continuing to tackle the opioid crisis and modernizing elections, it is a bold proposal that works to maximize the potential of Pennsylvania and all who live here.

It’s no secret the future of our communities depends on how we prepare the next generation of leaders. That’s why I was happy to see such a large emphasis placed on education on all fronts. I will continue to advocate for increased funding to high-quality early education programs, establishing community college tuition assistance, increasing the minimum starting salary for teachers to match with increasing costs of living, and other sensible proposals that guarantee a strong and vibrant education system.

I’m also optimistic to see a greater emphasis placed on career training. In his address, Wolf acknowledged the need for more skilled workers across the state and unveiled a plan to create a comprehensive workforce command center. Investments and innovations like these will help reach the goal of having 60 percent of Pennsylvania residents having some form of a post-secondary degree by 2025.

The budget proposal also works to continue to take on hard-pressing but prevalent issues. Communities around Pennsylvania, including our very own, have felt the devastating impact that the opioid epidemic and addiction can have. That’s why it’s critically important we continue to address the issue head-on and help those with substance abuse problems to ensure they can receive treatment and live healthy, productive lives with a bright future.

These are, of course, only a small sample of the countless issues lawmakers will attempt to address with this year’s budget. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I attend public hearings in Harrisburg to learn more specifically about the governor’s budget and how it can improve the quality of living in the Scranton community. I also get an opportunity to address important issues for our area, including funding for senior centers, promoting the state’s unclaimed property program and fighting to protect independent pharmacies.

As these budget hearings and debates continue to move forward, I hope to engage with you and other community members to hear what projects and initiatives are most important to you. As your representative, it’s my duty to advocate and fight for funding to programs that benefit northeast Pennsylvania.

If you have any questions or concerns about state government, please stop by my office in Jay’s Commons in Scranton, or give us a call at 570-342-4348. We are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.