HARRISBURG – After listening on Tuesday to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal for the 2024-25 fiscal year, state Rep. Jim Rigby (R-Cambria/Somerset) immediately turned his thoughts to the following year’s budget cycle. He explained why in the following statement on the heels of Shapiro’s address before members of the General Assembly:
“Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposal checked a lot of boxes for me as a former emergency service provider and husband of a retired teacher. He wants to increase funding for local fire and EMS companies and allocate additional resources for Pennsylvania’s emergency management response efforts. The Shapiro budget plan also includes funding for four new classes of State Police cadets.
“In the classroom, the governor proposes a significant increase in spending for K-12, special education, libraries and career and technical education. I like his approach to ‘higher ed,’ where more money would be spent on community colleges and PASSHE (State System of Higher Education) schools. He’s proposed a change to the way we fund the “state-related institutions (Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Tempe University, and Lincoln University) by creating a more than $633 million “Grants to State-Related Institutions” appropriation. This new approach represents a $30.2 million, or 5% increase over their combined funding from FY 2023-24.
“Now comes the fun part – how do we support a $3.7 billion increase in spending, $2.5 billion of which would be for new programs. The governor’s funding stream accesses nearly $16 billion in General Fund surplus and Rainy Day Fund balances. The proposed Basic Education Funding increase lacks details on how it interacts with changes and improvements to the existing system distribution system. The added financial support for emergency responders would be the result of transferring $30 million from the Property Tax Relief Fund.
“The governor is moving us down a path to where his successor will have no choice but to raise taxes in some form in order to sustain programs he put into place. He may in fact have to raise them himself before leaving office. Budgets in any area are always about spending no more than you take in. I’m not sure how the governor’s proposal can be labeled sustainable.”
Questions about this or any state government issue should be directed to Rigby’s Cresson office at 814-886-1055, his Ferndale office at 814-536-9818, or his Somerset County office at 1-814-509-6942.
Representative Jim Rigby
71st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott B. Little
717.260.6137 (office), 717.497.5967 (cell)