(HARRISBURG) – The state Senate today approved a fiscally responsible 2021-22 state budget that boosts transportation funding while putting money aside for the future, according to Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37).
“This budget supports the concerns we have heard during the last several months about the transportation shortfalls,” said Senator Robinson, who has been an outspoken critic of the Wolf Administration plan to toll nine Pennsylvania bridges including the one on I-79 in Bridgeville. “This funding will allow us to take a step back and pass legislation that will rein in PennDOT’s Public-Private Transportation Partnership (P3) and bring the Legislature into the process of raising the funds needed for these projects throughout the Commonwealth.”
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.
“Again this year, we did not ask families for more of their hard-earned dollars to prop up state spending,” Senator Robinson said. “Instead we held the line on the governor’s requested increase in taxes and spending while still focusing on the challenges facing our Commonwealth.”
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.
While Pennsylvania is on pace to end the current fiscal year with $2.5 billion in surplus revenue, Senate Republicans cautioned that the revenue projections for the current fiscal year were made as Pennsylvania was coping with the financial devastation caused by the global pandemic and the governor’s business closure orders.
Despite a significant rebound in revenues and the availability of federal stimulus funds to help balance the budget, lawmakers must remain vigilant and pragmatic because Pennsylvania’s mandated spending growth still outpaces its revenue growth and the Commonwealth cannot depend on continued federal funding.
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.
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: Elizabeth Weitzel