Education, public safety highlights of spending plan
HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) today voted in favor of a state budget that prioritizes public safety, education and saving for the future. The 2018-19 Pennsylvania budget would spend $32.7 billion, a conservative 1.7 percent boost over the current year budget, which is an increase below the rate of inflation.
“With the strongest national economy we have seen in many years and record unemployment, state revenues are up,” said Owlett. “This type of resurgence has enabled the Legislature to increase education funding, put more money toward public safety, enhance efforts to help those struggling with opioid addiction and put money into a savings account, all without raising taxes on hard-working Pennsylvanians.”
Owlett noted that the House-passed budget will create a new $60 million block grant program for schools to institute stronger safety measures; increase funding for basic, special and pre-K education by $140 million; increase higher education, which includes state-related universities, State System of Higher Education schools and community colleges, by roughly 3 percent; and dedicate an additional $30 million for career and technical education.
Also included in the budget is an increase of $4 million for EMS agencies; funding to train an additional 285 state police troopers; money to serve an additional 965 people living with intellectual disabilities; and funds to provide services to 800 families affected by the opioid epidemic.
“I was happy to see that two of the budget requests Gov. Tom Wolf made back in February were not included in the budget. They were fees on Pennsylvanians for state police coverage and an additional tax on natural gas drilling. These proposals would have adversely impacted our region in particular,” said Owlett. “Instead, we were able to avoid tax increases so businesses have a chance to thrive and produce more jobs, and our state police complement will grow without taking more money out of the pockets of rural families.
“Since my election to office in May of this year, I have been encouraged by the strengthening financial picture in the Commonwealth. This budget is a perfect example of what can happen when government helps, instead of hinders, business growth and success. As a small business owner, I am happy to see more job creation in the state and more money going back in to the bank accounts of Pennsylvania families.”
For more information on the budget, go to www.PAHouseGOP.com and click on “2018-19 State Budget.”