HARRISBURG – Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) said today, after casting her vote for a balanced, on-time state budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, that this spending plan is designed with the taxpayers of Pennsylvania at the forefront.
“We are fully cognizant taxpayers are tapped out, and they cannot afford any additional increases in sales or income taxes,” Pickett said. “That’s why we went over every line item in this budget bill and looked at ways to maximize each and every dollar. In some items, we found significant savings allowing us to redirect state funds to more critical priorities, namely public education, human services and agriculture.”
The $30.18 billion plan passing the House today contains no new tax increases, and has a growth rate of just 3.6 percent.
On the education front, public schools will receive $100 million in additional basic education dollars, $20 million more for special education and funds to help with their increasing pension obligations. Mobile science programs benefiting rural school districts, which were endangered in the administration’s proposal, will be protected. In addition, higher education, including the state-owned and state-related universities, along with community colleges, will receive 3 percent bumps in state aid.
To watch Pickett’s video comments, click here
Agriculture will receive one of the largest investments, with a total of $23 million in new funding, including more dollars for Penn State agriculture research and extension activities. Several successful agriculture programs were threatened with elimination by the governor’s proposal but were saved in today’s budget.
To help protect the state’s most vulnerable, additional funding is being directed toward home- and community-based services, long-term care, services to persons with disabilities, domestic violence and rape crisis programs, and drug and alcohol programs.
In addition, another $25 million is being used to provide health insurance coverage for an additional 15,881 children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has been critical for many families. Pickett, chairman of the House Insurance Committee, also authored legislation, which is quickly moving through the General Assembly, to extend that program through 2017.
“The product we passed through the House today signals our dedication to getting the job done and getting it done to the taxpayers’ satisfaction,” Pickett said. “With a deadline just a couple of days away, we take our jobs seriously. I am hopeful that the governor realizes that he will be presented with a responsible, taxpayer-first budget that funds our critical priorities, and signs it without delay. That’s the right thing to do.”
The budget bill now heads to the state Senate for its agreement.
Representative Tina Pickett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton