The 2018-19 state budget bill, House Bill 2121, a bipartisan compromise, passed the House overwhelmingly with a 188 to 10 vote. The plan includes no new or increased taxes or fees and comes in below the rate of inflation.
The spending plan calls for millions of dollars in additional funding support for educational initiatives from pre-kindergarten through high school and also for colleges, universities, career and technical programs, and other forms of advanced education.
“As a parent and a former educator, I am very cognizant of the importance of investing in education,” said Rep. Karen Boback (Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming), who voted in favor of it. “This budget prioritizes education, as funding will be increased by $100 million.”
Included in the $100 million education investment is a $25 million boost to early childhood education funding, while special education funding will receive an additional $15 million. An additional $30 million was allocated to prepare students and workers for in-demand jobs.
The budget also makes important investments in higher education with community colleges and state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) receiving a 3 percent boost in funding. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education funding allocation is increased by 3.3 percent and will benefit East Stroudsburg, Bloomsburg and Mansfield in the northeast.
“It’s is a moral obligation of the Legislature to ensure every child has a safe and quality education,” said Boback. “I am very pleased with not only the funding increases for education in general, but the priority for ensuring a safe learning environment inside the classroom.”
The funding will create a block grant program that school districts can apply for to ensure access to a variety of resources.
Block grant funding will be available for:
School resource officers.
- Metal detectors.
- School safety assessments.
- Facility upgrades and more.
Included in the budget is a call for supporting heath advances and research. Out of over 500 line items, new ones were created this year to address the opioid crisis and Lyme disease as well as other areas that will have a direct impact on House District 117.
“Our state has been ravaged with opioid addiction and has become the epicenter for Lyme disease and an economically disastrous infestation of the Spotted Lantern Fly,” said Boback. “I believe this budget allocates resources to help combat these problems.
“I understand that there hasn’t been a budget like this since before the Great Recession,” said Boback. “I feel this is a compromise budget that protects people’s hard-earned money, provides for my constituents and is a result of a growing economy.”
The budget legislation – House Bill 2121– now heads to the state Senate for consideration.