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HARRISBURG, February 6, 2018 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed $32.987 billion state budget:

“I applaud Governor Wolf for his continued dedication and investment in the areas most important to the residents of Pennsylvania – education, job creation and public health. This budget proposal includes a significant $100 million increase in basic education funding as well as an increase in state support for special education and pre-K funding; strengthens our workforce development and job training initiatives; and continues to support Pennsylvania families struggling with opioid addiction.

“The Governor’s 2018-19 state budget proposal seeks a much-needed increase in our state minimum wage so we can come in line with all states surrounding us. Importantly, the proposed 2018-19 state budget avoids any broad-based tax increases on those same working families – there are no personal income tax or sales tax increases — but it does include a responsible severance tax on the Marcellus shale industry. We were finally able to pass bipartisan severance tax legislation out of the Senate last year so I remain hopeful that we can again reach a consensus that will compensate Pennsylvanians for the volume of natural gas extracted from our soil.   The industry needs to be at the table and we need to get this right this year.”

“This budget proposal also prioritizes initiatives that support workforce development and job training – issues that have been among my top priorities since taking office in 2011. The budget includes $12 million to continue our successful Manufacturing PA initiative as well as a $5 million increase for the PA First program, which focuses on job creation and workforce development. I have introduced Senate Bill 714 which would create a state-level council dedicated to career readiness that would improve transition from K-12 to postsecondary to the workforce.  These initiatives ensure that programs are aligned with the current or anticipated needs of business and industry in Pennsylvania. We need to continue close the skills gap and educate, prepare and train a 21st century workforce so Pennsylvania remains competitive and we sustain our economic vitality.”

“I also support the Governor’s continued support for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families.  His budget proposal includes a $50 million increase to support these families and the workers who serve them.”

“As a member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure we enact a state budget that reflects the priorities of all Pennsylvanians by June 30.”

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