While I support the swift, bipartisan action taken to pass a state budget plan, I could not support the central House-written bill within the complete budget package of legislation signed into law by the governor today. In that bill, majority House leadership left a $300 million deficit in property tax relief. I was able to vote to fill that gap in a different budget-related bill thankfully led by cooler heads in the Senate.
The bottom line is that this year’s temporary budget is critical to keep school doors open through the next school year. First and foremost, students cannot afford to go without classroom or properly equipped home instruction any longer.
You also could call this budget an expeditionary budget, as it provides the first five months of funding to most state agencies, but 12 months of funding to education at the same levels as last year’s budget.
The overall state plan consists of the $25 billion General Fund allotment as well as $2.6 billion in federal funding that Pennsylvania received from the CARES Act. Pennsylvanians will not see any new taxes for at least the next six months.
From the $2.6 billion CARES Act funding, the following money has been earmarked to directly offset the ravaging effect COVID-19 is taking on Pennsylvania.
- $632M for vulnerable populations including long-term care centers and nursing homes, who have been impacted the most by COVID-19
- $150M toward worker protections
- $870M for business and local services relief
- $347M for schools
- $30M to health care initiatives
- $225M toward food and shelter resources
We were able to move legislation to allot additional funding for Pennsylvania’s state-affiliated universities: Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Lincoln University, Temple University and University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School, as well. Pennsylvania’s institutes of higher learning must be ready to continue educating tomorrow’s leaders in thought and professional expertise to lead our economic recovery.
We also passed legislation that would provide relief to long term care providers such as nursing facilities, personal assistance services, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, residential habilitation, adult day services and service providers to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. House Bill 2510 provides these critical service providers with $500 million so they can provide residents and workers with PPE, expand testing to those who are asymptomatic and provide overtime and training to workers – all incredibly valuable and strong moves toward keeping patients and clients safe.