Pa. lawmakers pass $40 billion budget, save $7 billion

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a $40 billion dollar budget late on Friday night.

While the budget did get votes from both sides, not all lawmakers were happy with it.

The budget includes $39.78 billion from the General Fund and $1.04 billion from federal relief money.

Nearly a third of the money is going towards education with $13.55 billion dollars going to PreK-12. An additional $50 million is going to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Infrastructure, including road and bridge projects, is getting $279 million.

$282 million will be given to nursing homes, assisted living and personal care homes.

One of the pieces of the budget Democrats have expressed excitement about is the $30 million going towards communities for violence prevention and intervention.

Rep. Jordan Harris says this investment could save lives by helping to tackle gun violence.

“I do believe that these dollars are going to keep some young person off the street that may have found themselves on the other side of a gun,” Harris said.

$372 million will be set aside for any future pandemic needs.

A big point of contention with this budget is not over how the money is being spent, but how it isn’t.

It puts $2.52 billion from the state’s surplus into the Rainy Day Fund. An additional $5 billion from federal relief will be saved to use in future budgets.

Republicans say it’s smart and strategic to save this money for the future.

Rep. Torren Ecker says it’s something he thinks voters will be happy to see.

“We spent money on education, we spent money on transportation, we spent money on nursing homes, kind of the three big things, and public safety. Things that really took a hit this year, industries that really really struggled this year,”Ecker said. “Look, we can always spend money. The hard decisions are saving money and trying to forcast forward.”

Democrats say there are many missed oppurtunities in the budget. They’d like to see some of the money going into savings instead be put towards things like education, pandemic relief, and infrastructure.

Rep. Matt Bradford is one of those who says the budget is lacking in important ways.

“We need to be planting the seeds for tomorrow’s growth. This is an opportunity to make long-term investments in terms of job creation, infrastructure,” Bradford said. “Instead of putting these dollars away, the simple reality is these challenges aren’t going to go away. They need to be addressed if we’re ever going to have long-term growth in the commonwealth.”

The deadline to pass the PA budget is June 30th, so lawmakers are ahead of schedule.

Governor Wolf announced in a statement that he is in favor of the budget and will sign it next week.

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