(HARRISBURG) – The Senate approved a $40.8 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 that supports Pennsylvania’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while protecting taxpayers from tax increases, according to Senator Ryan P. Aument (R-36), who voted for the measure.
The fiscally responsible budget does not include any of the tax increases proposed by the Governor in February — including a 46% Personal Income Tax hike and the imposition of a Marcellus Shale Extraction tax. In addition, the final budget restores the Governor’s cuts in funding for health care and agricultural programs and services.
“I have consistently advocated for a responsible approach to budgeting, particularly after such a volatile economic year,” said Aument. “Spending within our means, saving money so that we are better prepared for future economic downturns and can avoid potential tax increases, exercising fiscal restraint, and being good stewards of Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars will be necessary as the Commonwealth continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I was pleased to vote for this budget that does just that.”
Pennsylvania is currently on pace to end this fiscal year at the end of June 2021 with $2.5 billion in surplus revenue. However, despite this significant rebound in revenues coupled with the availability of federal stimulus funds to help balance the budget, lawmakers remain vigilant and pragmatic because Pennsylvania’s mandated spending growth still outpaces its revenue growth and the Commonwealth cannot depend on continued federal funding in the future.
As such, the budget provides a three-tier approach to create a strong financial safety net for coming years:
- All $2.5 billion in surplus FY 2020-21 funds will be allocated to the Rainy-Day Fund, augmenting the current $240 million balance in that account.
- $2.5 billion in projected surplus revenue from FY 2021-22 will be used to balance next year’s budget.
- $2.6 billion of remaining federal funding will also be used to help balance next year’s budget.
Senate Republicans recognize the importance of all Pennsylvania schools and the vital role they play in ensuring today’s students are given the tools to be competitive in the 21st Century global marketplace and be productive members of our communities.
To that end, the budget includes $300 million more for Basic Education Funding, $50 million more for Special Education, $25 million more for Pre-K programs, and $5 million more for Head Start.
“Ensuring that the needs of Pennsylvania students are met is critical now more than ever, particularly considering the learning loss, education gaps, and general academic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Aument. “That is why we’ve made investments into every level of education in this budget, from pre-K and Head Start programs to K-12 education to higher education.”
The budget allocates $279 million in federal funding to support highway and bridge improvement projects. This will enable the Commonwealth to address its deteriorating transportation network while supporting employers and creating family sustaining jobs.
A total of $282 million in federal money is directed to supporting Pennsylvania’s nursing homes ($247 million) and assisted care facilities and personal care homes ($30 million), many of which were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, $5 million will provide for ventilation improvements.
The budget includes $50 million to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for construction cost relief, to help builders of low-income housing cope with the increased costs of materials caused by the pandemic, and $5 million to the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund to offset revenue losses caused by the pandemic.
CONTACT: Stephanie Applegate (717) 787-4420