Frankel applauds governor’s 2022-2023 state budget proposal

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 — State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, responded to Gov. Tom Wolf’s final budget Tuesday with gratitude and relief.

“Every day, Pennsylvanians call my office needing help, and this document shows that our state government can and should provide the support and investment that they need,” Frankel said.

Frankel added that as he’s said before, the budget is a reflection of our values as a commonwealth. To that end, he noted, Wolf’s proposal acknowledges the enormous needs that remain after two years of weathering a global pandemic.

Frankel said that caring for our most vulnerable citizens is a moral obligation that needs attention now rather than later, financially speaking, too.

“These needs do not go away if you fail to meet them – they get worse. More people suffer, and the problems become more difficult and more expensive to solve,” Frankel said.

As Democratic chairman of the House Health Committee, Frankel noted that the budget goes a long way in upgrading our health care infrastructure and ensuring that Pennsylvania is prepared for the future. Some of those priorities include:

  • The chance to improve the state laboratory. Early in the pandemic officials lamented the inability to process more lab tests, faster. Tracking the contagion early, from Covid to Lyme Disease, has shown to be important and Pennsylvania needs both an up-to-date laboratory, and an expanded workforce.
  • More funding for local health departments. During this pandemic, the Allegheny County Health Department provided a tailored response for the needs of the area. This budget gives local health departments a 26% increase.
  • Funds to make sure that people who have babies can stay on Medicaid for a full year after birth, to help parents, and help turnaround abysmal maternal mortality numbers in Pennsylvania.
  • Investments in behavioral health providers, providing funds to counties to help support services, and $75 million to recruit and retain behavioral health providers.
  • $91.25 million increase to Medical Assistance rates for skilled nursing facility providers and $14 million for state veterans’ homes to help long-term care providers hire staff to comply with new regulations that call for increased staffing ratios to promote improved care for residents and drive increased funding to the bedside. 
  • $50 million to increase the supplementary payments rates for personal care homes to invest in supportive services and caregivers. 
  • $36.6 million increase in county mental health base funds to support efforts to provide critical behavioral health services. 

Frankel noted that the budget also includes funding for important programs within the district he represents, including:

  • $10 million in non-profit security grants.
  • $1.5 million for public television.
  • $35 million in gun-violence prevention grants, and
  • Funding for the “It’s on Us” campaign to help address sexual assault on college campuses – a program that was partially created by legislation written by Frankel in 2018.

Highlights to provide help where it is most needed include:

  • Raising the minimum wage.
  • $14.3 million increase to the minimum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit for low-income older adults and adults with disabilities. 
  • $2 million increase to address food insecurity and ensure more families have healthy meals through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS), and
  • $204 million to increase property tax relief through the existing Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.