Merski votes for 2022-23 budget, citing historic education funding

HARRISBURG, July 8 – Citing a historic investment in public education, state Rep. Bob Merski cast a “yes” vote Thursday for the Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 budget plan. The plan has passed the Senate and now heads for the governor’s desk.

Merski, D-Erie, said the funding can be game-changing for districts like Erie, where decades of underfunding have left students struggling to compete and taxpayers footing the bill for a system that fails both.

“Today, we took a huge step forward with a funding commitment that can begin to change the dynamic for our students – and the future of the state,” Merski said. “Quality education doesn’t just ease the burden on taxpayers and help students succeed, it brings lower unemployment, more stable families, better health outcomes and lower crime rates – and taxpayer savings. This is an investment the state has needed to make for some time, and one it can no longer afford to ignore.

“The new plan increases funding for basic education by $525 million and funding for special education by $100 million. It also provides for $225 million in level-up funding, which will bring an additional $6.6 million in funding to the Erie City School District. I worked to ensure that there is also funding for continuation of student mental health services.”

Merski said districts across the board will see the following increases:

  • Erie City: $15.8 million (17.9% increase) for basic ed; $1.37 million (11.6% increase) for special ed.
  • Harbor Creek: $448,900 (4.8% increase) for basic ed; and $186,000 (14.6% increase) special ed.
  • Fort LeBoeuf: $335,800 (4.6% increase) for basic ed; $80,000 (6.2% increase) for special ed.
  • Iroquois: $902,300 (10% increase) for basic ed; $120,000 (12.4% increase) for special ed.
  • Wattsburg Area: $510,800 (7.3% increase) for basic ed; $86,000 (7.8% increase) for special ed.

Merski said other key aspects of the plan will help working families, seniors and residents struggling with housing needs.

“In addition to historic education funding, the new spending plan will use leftover federal rescue dollars to provide a one-time additional rebate under the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program that will help seniors and disabled residents stay in their homes; expand affordable housing, and provide home repair assistance to residents in need. The new budget will also provide funding to stabilize the child care industry and create a new state child and dependent care credit. Finally, it will support our small businesses by providing a cut in the corporate tax rate, and it will transfer several billion back to the state’s Rainy Day Fund so we are prepared for any future financial issue that may arise. Most importantly, it holds the line on taxes.

“It’s a plan that helps working people and businesses in our district. No budget is perfect, but I believe the plan we passed is going to move us forward in some very key areas.”