Harrisburg – The Senate will carefully study the $33.2 billion state General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 unveiled by Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday (February 6) before a joint session of the General Assembly, according to Senator Bob Mensch (R-24). The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $1.2 billion (3.7 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year. The Governor is not requesting a broad-based tax increase this year, but is continuing to push for a Marcellus Shale extraction tax and a $25 per-capita fee for municipalities that rely on the State Police for local police coverage. The Governor also touched on economic development.
“I am pleased to hear that the Governor wants to have a dialogue about job development and economic development in Pennsylvania, but they are doing a lot to deter expansion,” said Mensch. “One of our biggest issues is Pennsylvania’s business tax structure. It discourages new businesses from moving to Pennsylvania and it also discourages current Pennsylvania businesses from expanding. The Administration wants to deny some of the federal tax relief for businesses and we have to push back on that. We, the legislature, need to take the lead on this and ensure that Pennsylvania has the best economic advantages for businesses.”
In addition, the Governor is requesting a $100 million increase in Basic Education Funding ($6.09 billion); a $40 million increase for early childhood education; and, a $20 million increase in special education funding. The State System of Higher Education would see a $15 million increase, while state funding for community colleges and state-related universities is flat lined in the Governor’s request.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, which Senator Mensch is a member of, will hold a three-week series of Departmental Budget Hearings beginning on February 20. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.
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