Harkins votes for new budget, citing strong investments in education

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement after the House and Senate Friday evening passed the new Pennsylvania budget:

“I voted to support the budget because it holds the line on taxes and makes critical investments in education, including an increase of $300 million in funding for basic education. From that funding, the budget plan will allocate $100 million to the state’s most grossly underfunded school districts, including the Erie City School District. That investment is long overdue, and it should go a long way in helping to level the playing field and help our students compete for good, family-sustaining jobs.

“I am also encouraged by the budget’s investment of nearly $5 million to help support the startup, growth and operation of the new Erie Community College as it attracts students and jobs to the area and builds our workforce.

“Finally, the budget allocates $450 million in rent and utility assistance and provides funding to bolster public transit – a vitally important resource for working families.

“Despite these investments, the budget contains a number of missed opportunities. For years, residents have been carrying the burden of property taxes without seeing the benefits, and I believe the spending plan missed an important opportunity to provide that relief for taxpayers.

“I also believe we missed a chance to do more for working families and the frontline workers whose tireless efforts helped get us through some of the toughest times our community has endured. I believe the plan should have invested more in infrastructure and other job creating opportunities.

“Of course, no budget is perfect, and I believe this plan does keep the commonwealth moving forward without burdening residents with any new taxes. I am also encouraged that it makes some of its greatest investments in our greatest resource – our next generation.”