– Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) joined a majority of lawmakers Tuesday in approving the Commonwealth’s 2019-20 state budget that includes no new or increased taxes.
“It’s all about being fiscally responsible and respectful of the taxpayers who foot the bill for the annual state budget,” Causer said. “With no new taxes and important investments in education, health care and agriculture, I believe this budget is good for rural Pennsylvania.”
The $33.99 billion spending plan, now awaiting action in the Senate, also devotes 100% of the General Fund balance at the end of the fiscal year – anticipated at $250 million to as much as $300 million – to the Rainy Day Fund.
“It’s important to have some savings in place to prepare for the next economic downturn,” Causer said. “I’m pleased that we were able to make this a priority in this year’s budget negotiations.”
House Bill 790
again makes record investments in education, with an additional $432 million directed to preK-12 education. This includes $160 million more for basic education, $50 million more for special education and $10 million for career and technical education to help better prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. To help ensure students have a safe learning environment, the budget also directs $60 million to fund school safety and security grants.
Also increased is funding for critical access hospitals, which help ensure care is available in some of the most rural areas of the Commonwealth. The budget designates $10.9 million for these hospitals.
“As chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I am also pleased with the historic investments we are making in our state’s top industry,” Causer said. “Our farmers put food on our tables, but they also contribute substantially to our rural economy and support thousands of jobs.”
Causer again fought to restore funding to several line items the governor proposed to eliminate from the agriculture budget, including hardwoods research and promotion, which was increased by $50,000 to $474,000, as well as agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education and exports; and the livestock and open dairy shows.
The budget, as approved by the House, also sets aside $4 million for a Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, which is proposed in Causer’s House Bill 1516
that is now pending consideration in the Senate.
“Our farmers are constantly facing threats from disease and invasive species where a quick response is vital to preventing or at least minimizing damage,” Causer said. “To further protect our food supply, we are also including in the budget a new $2 million appropriation for the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, as well as $1 million for livestock and consumer health protection.”
Other agriculture initiatives in the budget include a new business and workforce investment program to prepare the next generation of farmers and a 2% increase in funding for the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and Penn State Extension. Overall, funding for agriculture is up more than $19 million, or 12%, this year.
A final budget is due by the end of the fiscal year, June 30.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler