07 February 2024- Governor Josh Shapiro has, in a full address to both chambers of state government, unveiled what he wants to be included in this coming year’s fiscal budget. Included in that proposed budget is an overhaul to education funding centered around a “blueprint” he has previously unveiled and a large influx of cash to the system, the potential for legal marijuana, regulation for games of skill, a minimum wage increase, and expanded public transport money.
While this budget is simply proposed and not the final one to be voted on for sure, it is certainly a wish list from the governor. That budget is set to be hammered out and negotiated between members of the PA House and Senate. So what exactly are your representatives saying about the budget? Statements, both written and verbal, are below.
State Senator Doug Mastriano
“The governor’s budget proposal calls for deficit spending that could lead to future tax increases or cuts in programs for senior citizens, military veterans and children.
“Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget would throw more money into underperforming public schools instead of empowering parents through enhanced school choice programs that enable students to succeed. Throwing money into failing programs doesn’t create solutions; it creates more expensive problems.
“The governor wants to use more tax dollars from central Pennsylvanians to subsidize bus and train rides for Philadelphians through increased state funding for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA. I don’t believe taxpayers across Pennsylvania should have to send more of their money to subsidize the crime-ridden, incompetently run public transit system in Philadelphia.
“Gov. Shapiro seems to want to follow the example of his extreme progressive counterparts in California and New York, where excessive government spending has created huge budget deficits and led to increased inflation. The governor’s proposal would put Pennsylvania on a path toward financial collapse and economic ruin.
“The problem with socialist government spending schemes is, to paraphrase British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, at some point you eventually run out of other people’s money. Gov. Shapiro’s budget would spend taxpayers’ money faster than they could earn it.”
State Representative Jesse Topper
“At face value, the governor’s proposal spends well beyond the state’s means. He is seeking to increase spending by $3.7 billion to $48.34 billion and that is simply unsustainable moving forward. The programs the governor wants to create will not be retired when economic conditions worsen and at that point, they will lead to a massive tax increase.
“While there is much in the proposal that I found problematic, I was encouraged to hear the governor embrace a model similar to my House Bill 1574 to create performance-based funding incentives for institutes of higher education. This method of funding will use metrics to ensure these institutions are providing a true value for our students and families while improving the accountability over how these tax dollars are spent.
“I was also cautiously optimistic when the governor called on the House and Senate to create a school funding model that not only included recommendations of the Basic Education Funding Commission, but also an endorsement of a school scholarship plan, similar to the Lifeline Scholarships that were proposed in last year’s budget. As I have said, all students, especially those in schools that are in crisis, need a path to a brighter future. I look forward to working with my colleagues to tackle the difficult issues and have the tough, but necessary conversations about transforming our educational system in Pennsylvania.”
State Representative Paul Schemel
State Senator Judy Ward
“The budget the governor proposed today is outrageous and puts Pennsylvania on an unsustainable and dangerous path for the future,” Ward said. “Because of the fiscal responsibility championed by the Senate Republican Caucus, Pennsylvania has received better bond ratings and national recognition for the financial stability it has achieved. At a time of high inflation, rising prices and economic instability, state government must enact fiscally responsible policies to counteract those negative trends.”
“The governor’s proposed budget needs work,” Ward said. “As we move through the budget negotiation process, we cannot just spend more money and expect different results. We must focus on wholistic solutions that create jobs, empower parents, and defend our freedoms. Pennsylvania needs to stop harmful policies like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) electricity tax, advance helpful policies like the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) scholarship program, and cut government red tape that hampers innovation and job creation.”