While the national economy is booming due to federal tax and pro-growth policies, our state has seen positive economic growth year over year. For example, sales tax receipts grew 8% or $713 million by the end of May, personal income tax grew 5% or $633 million, and corporate net income tax grew 20%, or $507 million, for an approximate total of $2.825 billion.
The governor’s proposed budget in February was $34.15 billion, an increase of $927 million, or 2.8%. However, he had already overspent his previous year’s budget by $750,000 in supplementals — a more than 4% increase. In my opinion, the additional supplemental spend is unfortunate, and I intend to help promote budget reform the second half of the year. We must rein in the uncapped spending spree that occurs in Harrisburg when we have a surplus and instead pay down debt, reduce property taxes and save for future economic downturns.
After weeks of negotiations, I joined my colleagues in the House with a strong bipartisan vote in favor of a $33,997,395 budget for 2019-20. There are no new taxes or fees in this budget, and it is a conservative $149 million less than what the governor proposed in February. There is no Pennsylvania State Police buy-back, no teacher minimum salary increase, no “Restore PA,” no combined reporting, and no minimum wage increase. We are fully funding our state pension obligation, among several other line items.
This budget puts 100% of the fund balance at the end of June 2019 into the Rainy Day Fund; at least $250,000. Why is this important? Before 9/11, Pa. had over $3 billion in our Rainy Day Fund, in the event of emergencies, and reserve for bond ratings. Currently, we have $28 million. We need to build up these reserves in the event of another economic downturn.
Pre-K through 12 education would increase by $432 million; $50 million more for special education; $25 million for Pre-K counts; $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program; school safety grants are being funded at $60 million; and public libraries are getting a $5 million bump.
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Those who have followed my work in the House know, I have been a strong proponent of helping to train folks for the many family-sustaining jobs in our state, as some 71,000 Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs went unfilled last year. We have dedicated $10 million to career and technical education and equipment and boosted funding for many of our technical schools to a basic demand for skilled workers in numerous fields.
I also voted to put an additional $26.3 million toward mental health services, $84.8 million in home care for folks with intellectual disabilities and $12 million more for seniors and those with physical disabilities. As a Commonwealth, we ought to help those in our community who can’t help themselves, especially when we have the means to do so.
We have ensured that agriculture, one of the pillars of Cumberland County’s economy, was saved from the governor’s proposed cuts. We added $1 million for livestock and consumer protection; $2 million for the animal health and diagnostics commission; and $4.5 million for agriculture and workforce investment. All told, agriculture will see a $19.5 million increase over last year, a 12.8% boost.
You can view the total budget at www.PABudget.com.
If anyone has questions, please call my office at 717-249-1990.