Senate Votes to Restore Wolf’s Cuts to Schools, Agriculture

HARRISBURG — The State Senate voted today to restore funding to a number of programs that were vetoed by Governor Wolf in December, including critical funds for education, agriculture and rural hospitals, according to Senate Republican Leaders.

The supplement budget passed today would increase state support for education by $200 million and restore much of the $6 billion in funding eliminated by the Governor’s line-item vetoes. The $30.031 billion spending plan would utilize existing revenues without the need for a tax increase.

Passage of the budget is crucial because it finally allows Pennsylvania to move beyond the nine-month budget impasse and begin working in earnest toward a responsible budget for next year.

Basic Education will see $5.95 billion in funding, an increase of $200 million from Fiscal Year 2014-15. The total also represents a $50 million increase over the funding vetoed by the Governor.

HB 1801 reverses the Governor’s line-item vetoes of funding for community colleges and the State System of Higher Education, while providing full funding for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities: Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.

The bill would provide funds to preserve programs such as agricultural extension and research and 4-H that are currently in jeopardy since they were defunded by the governor.

Senate Leaders offered the following statements on the passage of the budget, which now returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25):  “Today’s vote took an important step to close the 2015-16 budget impasse which has now entered its ninth month.  I am pleased that we are finally completing this budget year without raising taxes on Pennsylvania’s hardworking residents.  The supplemental budget passed by the Senate today will provide our schools, agriculture programs, critical access hospitals and many other worthwhile programs with the funding they need to keep their doors open.   Governor Wolf’s desire to create a crisis by line item vetoing funding last December was completely inappropriate.  It is long past time to close the 2015-16 budget and move on to working to provide a timely and responsible budget for 2016-17.”

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34):  “We are in an emergency situation. Let’s stop looking at what this budget isn’t and focus on what it is. This budget is $200 million new dollars for education and keeps our schools from closing their doors. It restores the funding for our agricultural community and means Penn State won’t lay off 1,100 employees. Rural hospitals receive their funding as do regional cancer centers, poison control facilities and more. This plan gets our communities the money they desperately need without the tax increases the Governor so desperately wants.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-16):  “We cannot continue down the path we are on where schools are facing the real prospect of being forced to close and where vital non-profits and social service organizations are unable to keep their doors open and operating. We have a fundamental and constitutional responsibility to provide funding to these critical state programs and services. This supplemental 2015-16 appropriations budget restores most of the Governor’s line-item veto cuts from December and provides increased funding for education, restores funding to correctional facilities and social service agencies and does so without raising taxes on our hard-working families and job creators.”

Senate Majority Whip John Gordner (R-27):  “I am pleased the Senate has acted to restore funding to our schools, agricultural community, rural critical access hospitals and other vital programs.  This responsible budget reverses the punitive cuts inflicted by Governor Wolf through his line-item vetoes and at the same time increases public school funding by $200 million without raising a single tax.”

CONTACTS:
Drew Crompton – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Matt Moyer – Senator Browne (717) 787-1349
Joshua Funk – Senator Gordner (717) 787-8928