HARRISBURG – Senator Ryan Aument (R-Landisville) today issued the following statement on Governor Wolf’s fourth budget proposal, which was submitted to the General Assembly in a Joint Session of the House of Representatives and Senate:
“Today Governor Wolf delivered his annual budget proposal to the General Assembly, requesting an overall increase in spending to approximately $33.2 billion, which includes a $1.2 billion or 3.7% growth from 2017-18 levels.
While I am concerned about the overall spending increase that the Governor is requesting, I am pleased that he has focused some of his new requests in areas that I believe will promote more opportunity for Pennsylvanians because they will help grow our economy and encourage a stronger and more skilled workforce.
More specifically, I believe that Governor Wolf has correctly identified funding needs that our Commonwealth has related to career and technical training, apprenticeships and industry partnerships.
In nearly all of my visits to Lancaster County businesses, one of the consistent needs identified by most employers is that they need skilled workers to effectively meet demands and grow their operations.
While state government tends to focus on funding higher education, key investments in vocational and technical training, coupled with apprenticeships, will help meet critical needs by today’s employers and can provide a high-paying career to young people so that they can build wealth, have a family and contribute to their communities.
Another proposal that Governor Wolf offered is a $40 million investment in STEM and computer science education with a goal of integrating computer science into Pennsylvania’s schools.
Far too often government fails to consider the long-term needs of our people and economy, and this proposal recognizes a future where these skills will be in high demand and where many jobs will be created through increased automation.
I applaud Governor Wolf for being proactive and as Chairman of the Senate’s Communications and Technology Committee and Vice Chairman of the Education Committee, I look forward to working with him on this initiative to the benefit of Pennsylvania’s young people.
While the Governor’s budget proposal offers several positive initiatives, I am again very concerned about the funding cuts he included in the Department of Agriculture’s budget.
Agriculture is a cornerstone to Lancaster County and Pennsylvania’s economy, and completely eliminating funding for agriculture excellence, agriculture research, agricultural promotion, education and exports is shortsighted and fails to build on one of our Commonwealth’s top industries.
There are other areas of the Governor’s proposal that I believe could be improved as well.
Of particular concern is the growth of general government operations in our state agencies.
For just 17 state executive departments, the Governor has proposed to increase funding for “general government operations” by 4.5%. I would much prefer these resources, if they must be spent, to be specifically directed to programs and services for the people of Pennsylvania and not bureaucrats and government employees.
Additionally, the overall growth of state government spending remains a challenge.
The 2015-16 state budget spent $30.1 billion. The 2018-19 budget proposes to spend $33.1 billion, which is a 10% increase in just four years. Unless Pennsylvania’s economy greatly improves, this pace of growth may prove to be unsustainable.
However, as with each budget proposal, today marks the beginning of an important annual discussion for Pennsylvania.
I look forward to actively participating in enacting a 2018-19 spending plan that best creates a society where everyone-regardless of their current station in life-has the opportunity to experience earned success.
I believe that this happens through the promotion of the free enterprise system, excellent schools, strong families and vibrant communities and will work with my colleagues in the General Assembly and the Governor to accomplish those goals.
CONTACT: Jake Smeltz, (717) 787-4420