Senator Pat Browne E-Newsletter

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General Assembly Passes, Governor Signs On-Time, Fiscally Responsible Budget

The state Senate passed and the Governor signed a Fiscal Year 2018-19 General Fund Budget that holds the line on spending, makes historic investments in education and school safety initiatives and includes no new or increased taxes.

6/22/18 - Passage of 2018-19 State Budget (House Bill 2121)

Senator Browne’s Comments on the Senate Floor regarding the FY 2018-19 state budget

Thanks to the resurgence in state revenues, we were able to support a $32.7 billion general fund budget plan that increases spending by just over $560,000. That is a 1.7 percent increase over the previous year, well within the limits prescribed in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

As Chairman of the Early Childhood Education Caucus and a member of the Senate Education Committee, I am proud to have been a leader in ensuring this budget includes a real investment in our children and their education at all school levels, including funding increases for every Lehigh County school.

  • Basic Education funding increases by $100 million to $6.1 billion.
  • Early Childhood and Head Start funding increases by $25 million to $251.5 million
  • Special Education Funding rises to $1.14 billion, a $15 million increase.

Overall, the Commonwealth is investing a record $12.3 billion in Pre-K to 12 education. 

Support for higher education continues in this budget with:

  • 3 percent increase for the State System of Higher Education
  • 3 percent increase for the State-Related Universities
  • 3 percent increase for Community Colleges
  • An additional $30 million investment in Career and Technical Education.

Senate Republicans hold Press Conference on School Safety Legislation

The tragic school shootings this year in states like Florida, Texas and Kentucky kept the spotlight on the need to ensure our students are safe when they attend Pennsylvania schools. I am proud to support the Senate’s efforts to provide resources and funding – including an additional $60 million in this year’s budget – to school districts so that they may invest in resources, equipment or personnel to protect our children. My legislation to create the Safe2Say Program was part of the Senate’s school safety initiatives. It creates a new school threat monitoring system that allows anonymous reporting of threats regarding unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activity in schools in an effort to help reduce school violence. (Click here to read more on the School Safety plan.)

Also with safety in mind, this budget provides additional funding for the Pennsylvania State Police to train three new cadet classes, which will result in nearly 300 additional troopers.

Care for our most vulnerable citizens and our aging population was prevalent in this budget too.

  • 965 more individuals with intellectual disabilities will receive services.
  • 5,230 more seniors and those with physical disabilities will receive home and community-based services.
  • 1,600 more children with be eligible for child care services.
  • 800 more families impacted by the opioid crisis will receive evidence-based home visits.

Agriculture and Manufacturing, two of Pennsylvania’s leading industries, also saw significant increases in investments.

In addition, the budget provides $3 million to combat the invasive pest the Spotted Lanternfly.

Last fall, Moody’s Analytics rated Pennsylvania among the least prepared states in the nation to handle a recession. One of the key reasons for that determination was the lack of reserve levels, which have effectively been at zero. That changes in this year’s budget as money is being deposited into the state’s Rainy Day Fund for the first time since the last recession.

Despite the brighter financial outlook facing the Commonwealth, however, the General Assembly showed with this budget a need to still remain vigilant and responsible with still-limited state resources.

As the Senate Appropriations Chairman charged with the responsibility of developing the Commonwealth’s spending plan, I am pleased that we were able to build consensus around a plan that invests in necessary programs and services, while protecting our taxpayers and employers. (Click here for more on the budget response from Senate Leadership)

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