The Senate yesterday (June 30th) approved a state budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 that invests in education, public safety, economic development and job creation and provides support for essential social and health services and programs without any new taxes or tax increases, according to Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne.
General Fund spending as proposed in House Bill 1437, which was signed into law by the Governor, was approved at $28.375 billion, a modest increase of $645 million or 2.3 percent over current year spending.
“I am pleased that we passed a budget that increased funding for essential state programs without raising taxes on our Pennsylvania citizens,” Senator Browne said. “For the third straight year, we were able to pass, on time, a reasonable budget given the economic difficult challenges facing the Commonwealth without sacrificing core government responsibilities.”
As Co-Chair of both of the bi-cameral, bipartisan Early Childhood Education Caucus and the Special Education Funding Commission, Senator Browne was instrumental in assuring that the state’s investment in education at all levels increased in this budget.
The budget substantially increases state support for early childhood education programs as funding for the Pre-K Counts program will rise by an additional $5 million to a total of $87.2 million and Head Start Assistance will receive an additional $2 million totaling $39.17 million.
“I am especially pleased that House Bill 1437 increases state support for early childhood education programs,” Senator Browne said. “We all recognize the importance of programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start and the benefits they provide to children, families, schools and communities. The money we’re investing today will be more than repaid over the coming years as the young people participating in these programs receive the mentoring that will enable them to become productive members of society in the future.”
House Bill 1437 reaffirms the Senate’s commitment to providing Pennsylvania’s young people with a quality education from the youngest ages through their college years. Basic Education Funding for Pennsylvania’s public schools will see a 2.4 percent increase ($129.9 million) to $5.52 billion in FY 2013-14. That total is $40.4 million above the Governor’s request.
In addition, the budget increased funding for school districts which face extraordinary challenges in educating its students. The Allentown School District will receive a 12 percent boost this year or an additional $9.6 million. The legislation also ensured Pennsylvania’s young people can learn in a safe environment as it provides an additional $6.5 million for Safe School Initiatives, bringing that total to $8.5 million.
Safety of all Pennsylvanians was a top priority in the state budget. Overall funding for the Attorney General’s Office will increase by more than $9 million, with a $3 million increase for the Child Predator Interceptor Unit ($4.35 million) and $2.5 million for a new Mobile Street Crimes Unit. The budget increases funding for the State Police by nearly $15 million and funds three new State Police training classes, which will enroll 290 new cadets.
The state budget kept its commitment to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as the program will receive a nearly $10 million funding increase ($111 million in total).
“Even in tough financial times, it is vital that we continue to support programs that have a proven track record of success, “ Senator Browne said. “And, I believe we were able to do that with this budget.”
Contact: Vicki Wilken (717) 717-1349
Matt Moyer (610) 366-2327