Spending plan includes record level of public education funding.
Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester and Delaware) praised the $33.9 billion Pennsylvania budget approved earlier today by lawmakers, citing the record level of state funding for public education as well as funding he requested to help victims of domestic violence and rape.
“This budget puts more state money than ever before in our classrooms without increasing taxes,” said Killion. “It is the right thing to do for our children, and it is a wise investment of our tax dollars.”
The new state budget calls for $12.8 billion in education funding, the largest-ever state investment in Pennsylvania’s schools. Additionally, the General Assembly renewed $60 million in grant funding to protect students and teachers from violence in schools. Other important education investments include:
- Basic Education funding increased by $160 million.
- Pre-K spending increased by $25 million (13 percent), Special Education increased by $5 million (4.4 percent) and Early Intervention services increased by $15 million (5 percent).
- Higher education institutions will receive an across-the-board 2 percent increase in funding for community colleges, state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) and State System of Higher Education schools, such as Cheyney University and West Chester University.
- Increased funding for Career and Technical Education by $7 million (7.6 percent).
- Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants were more than doubled to $5.5 million.
The author of a 2016 amendment to the Public School Code providing for fairness in new school funding, Killion emphasized the investment in education reflected in the new spending plan.
“Pennsylvania’s kids will face increasing competition. They must have the tools necessary to answer those challenges and make sure we continue to be a leader in the global economy. This budget promotes that goal.”
Killion also led efforts providing for a 10 percent increase in funding for services benefitting domestic violence and rape victims. This boost far exceeds the 1.8 percent increase in total state spending.
“The traumatic stories victims have shared with me have been chilling and heartbreaking,” said Killion, a former board member of the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County. “Convinced we must do more for the women and children in need of shelter and assistance, I was proud to advocate for the substantial increase in funding for these important programs.”
“Senator Killion has been a leader in the fight for victims’ rights in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said. “He was influential in advocating for additional money for programs dedicated to helping combat domestic violence. His budget work builds on his efforts to enact significant legislative changes to help victims of crime.”
Killion also received thanks from officials with organizations which support and advocate for victims.
“Our organization greatly appreciates Senator Killion’s continued support and prioritization of issues impacting victims and survivors of domestic violence, including advocating for funding that directly supports victims and survivors on their path to safety and autonomy,” said Virginia Lucy, Senior Government Relations Specialist with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“We are grateful for Senator Killion’s commitment and work on behalf of rape victims,” said Donna Greco, Policy Director for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. “This will allow us to increase funds for the network of rape crisis centers that continue to see an increase in demand for victim services and prevention programs locally.”
A member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Killion and his colleagues began work on the budget in February. He noted the new budget will set aside $300 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which held only $23 million prior to this year’s investment – enough to fund state government for only six hours.
“Taxpayers and families set aside money for tough times, and it’s the responsible thing for the state to do as well,” said Killion.
“We were determined to deliver an on-time, balanced budget with no tax increases. There are some priorities we must continue to work on. Personally, I think it’s time to raise the minimum wage in our state. However, this is a good budget for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers, kids and families.”