What to expect from this year’s budget debates

The month of June brings with it so many fun and memorable moments. We celebrate the end of the school year and, for some, graduation and stepping into the next phase of life. We happily welcome warmer weather and longer days and begin to plan for backyard BBQs and vacations. No matter what you have going on, June is, for so many, an extremely eventful time.

The month of June also means state budget debates. As your state legislator, I will be spending most of the month in Harrisburg with my fellow lawmakers as we work together to create a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with hopes to send a final budget proposal to Gov. Tom Wolf by the end of the month. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some components and areas I am most excited and ready to take on this year.

First, I am optimistic we will continue to see an increase in education funding on a variety of fronts. From investing more into early childhood education to enhancing career and technical education programs and everything in between, I believe that making strong investments today into our children sets our society up for greater rewards in the future. We have seen increased investments over the past few years, but we certainly have a long way to go before we are adequately funding every child’s future.

I am also looking forward to working with my colleagues to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. The current minimum wage, which sits at $7.25 an hour, has not been raised in a decade, and continues to deter hardworking people, including some in our community, to live a comfortable life and provide for their families. According to a Franklin and Marshall poll, 70% of Pennsylvanians believe it’s time to raise the minimum wage, and I hope my colleagues will join me to bring Pennsylvania on par with neighboring states. When we choose to lift up every member of society, we all benefit. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Finally, working to improve our infrastructure is an issue I hope we will take seriously this year. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Pennsylvania an overall infrastructure grade of C- for 2018. This is simply unacceptable. If we invest into our roadways, flood water management and so much more, we can create a better and safer Pennsylvania, while creating jobs along the way.

This year will be my seventh time working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to make sure necessary Pennsylvania departments, programs and initiatives receive funding to operate. Some years have come and gone smoothly, while others have drawn on as we debate difficult but important topics. One thing, however, is for certain. I remain steadfast to advocating for the issues I believe best benefit our community, and communities around Pennsylvania.

I hope you find these issues as important as I do. As always, please contact my office at 570-342-4348 if you have any questions or comments on these bills, or on any state-related matter. Hearing what issues and causes are most important to you helps me develop and fine tune my policy standpoints.