Senator Randy Vulakovich issued the following statement on Senate passage of House Bill 218 – the 2017-18 state general fund budget.
“Today, the Senate passed and I voted for a budget that will allow us to hold the line on taxes while providing critical investments in education and human services. This spending plan is one of the most challenging that I have seen during my time in the General Assembly. State revenues continue to lag well behind projections and we must cover mandated expenses in areas such as education, human services, public pensions and our corrections system.
“House Bill 218 represents a modest growth in spending, less than one percent from the current year and it is about $650 million less than what Governor Wolf requested in his February budget address. At the forefront of this process is our commitment to avoid the need for a broad-based tax increase through any means possible. However we were still able to increase the Basic Education Funding by $100 million, Special Education by $25 million, as well as Pre-K Counts by $25 million and Head Start Supplemental Assistance by $5 million. School Districts in the 38th Senatorial District will see a collective increase of over $2.4 million.
“We also met our pension obligations, which paired with recently enacted pension reform continues to pay down our unfunded liability. Additionally this budget takes into account those who are most vulnerable in our society, specifically, the budget included important increases to the Intellectual Disabilities line items by $180 million – which I strongly supported.
“The budget also included an increase of nearly $7.1 million to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, on which I serve as a legislative board member, to help the Commonwealth combat the ongoing opioid crisis.”
Contact: Charlie O’Neill (717) 787-6538 firstname.lastname@example.org