Harrisburg – June 22, 2018 – Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) said he hopes the 2018-2019 budget lays the foundation for future bipartisan negotiations and a willingness to work in a timely fashion.

Senator Hughes, Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman, also praised new funding for school and community violence initiatives and the increases to education, job and economic initiatives, social justice, and health care, areas the Democrats had made a priority all year.

“At the beginning of the year, we laid out an agenda that led with School and Community Violence and education restoration and we were able to accomplish that and much more,” Senator Hughes said. “We worked together and came up with a package that addressed many of the issues we have been fighting for over the past few years, and that is encouraging.”

The Senate Democratic Caucus priorities in this budget focus on four categories: education, jobs and workforce development, social justice and health care. The budget incorporates major investments in those state programs, including:

  • School and Community Violence:  new $60M initiative housed in the PA Commission on Crimes and Delinquency
  • In education:
    • $100 million increase in basic education (K-12 public schools)
    • $20 million increase in Pre-K Counts program
    • $30 million increase in career and technical education as part of the PA SMART Initiative
    • $15 million increase in special education
    • $21.6 million increase in Early Intervention
    • Nearly $7 million increase to community colleges
    • $15 million to the state-owned universities of the PASSHE schools
  • In job and workforce development:
    • A new $7 million apprenticeship training program through PA SMART
    • $3 million increase to industry partnerships through PA SMART
    • $3 million increase to combatting the Spotted Lanternfly infestation that threatens our agricultural industry
  • In social justice:
    • $1.3 million to the Human Relations Commission to provide the resources necessary to investigate claims like those of the Grandview 5.
    • $1 million for It’s On Us grants to address campus sexual assault
  • In health care
    • Includes funding to address the Governor’s waiting list initiatives.
      • 100 persons on the emergency waiting list for intellectual disabilities (ID) and 800 high school graduates aging into the ID waiver program.
      • 40 adults off of the Autism Intervention and Services waiting list.
    • Provides funding to expand home visitation programs for parents and young children.
    • $2.5 million to fight Lyme disease

“These are victories that undoubtedly should be celebrated, but we also have to do more to improve on the modest increases to critical aspects of our budget,” Senator Hughes said. “We have so many important areas that have to be funded better, especially job training and education, if we are to create a state that can thrive in the 21st century.”

Senator Hughes pointed to short-term fixes in the budget, specifically noting the increase to public education funding that restored the billion-dollar cuts to education funding under the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, and said that more has to be done to address the longer-term issues that fuel the economic anxieties of Pennsylvania citizens.

“This budget lays a solid foundation and a path forward to address the ongoing needs of PA’s people,” Senator Hughes said. “We must build off of what was accomplished here and the bi-partisan spirit that is represented in this agreed to budget, to address the anxiety, much of it economic, which continues to grip the citizens of PA.”