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Senador Collett

Harrisburg, Pa. – June 29, 2021 — Late Friday night the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Budget and related code bills, which are currently awaiting Governor Wolf’s signature. Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery/Bucks, Democratic Caucus Secretary) wishes to share her reactions to the final budget:

“Given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented by the massive surplus and the seven billion dollars of American Rescue Plan funds, I was optimistic that this year’s budget would be truly transformational, bringing major investments to Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, businesses, workers and families. Instead, what we got was a budget that does the bare minimum to be passable, negotiated by the Governor’s Office with leaders from four caucuses from two chambers, each with different priorities and agendas.”

“This budget fails to recognize that while it often makes sense to save for a rainy day, it is certainly not the best decision to squirrel away billions of dollars that are desperately and urgently needed to get our communities and citizens back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds that should instead be used to address big problems before they become bigger and more expensive, and invest in programs to prevent future problems, from our child care and elder care to paid family leave, from mental health services for our schoolchildren to improved career training and workforce development program for adults, and from cleaning up our aging and contaminated water systems to fixing our notoriously crumbling roads and bridges.”

  • My legislation to create a 21st Century Childcare network across Pennsylvania would set us up to attract and retain high-quality employees and support the businesses which will help PA lead the 21st century economy. The $300 million investment I proposed would bring nearly $600 million in revenue to the Commonwealth and generate more than $2.8 Billion in economic activity by allowing Pennsylvanians to get back to work. But this budget fails to adequately support long-term investments in childcare.”
  • “In Pennsylvania there are 12,275 folks with intellectual disabilities currently on a waiting list for services, 5,087 of whom are classified as emergency cases needing services today. It’s far past time the legislature cleared this backlog – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s far less costly to clear the waiting list than it is to fund state institutional services for these individuals.”
  • “Pennsylvania hasn’t increased the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rate for homecare since 2014 – and with homecare workers earning on average $11 an hour, it’s difficult to recruit and retain high-quality staff to care for our loved ones. We should be increasing the reimbursement rate, and learning from neighboring states who have tied rate increases to bedside services to cut down on administrative costs. Another missed opportunity with the FY 21-22 budget.”
  • “Sadly, it seems that the Republicans who control the legislature are so focused on their political agenda of blocking the success of a Democratic president that they are willing to turn a blind eye to the number one responsibility we all share, serving the people of Pennsylvania. It is not only fiscally irresponsible but morally so to ignore the gravity of suffering in our Commonwealth when they have the power and resources to reduce or eliminate it.”
  • “The Republicans in control of the legislature have advanced a budget that is hardly different from what we have seen from them year after year, despite the unprecedented $3 billion surplus and $7.3 billion available from the American Rescue Plan. While these funds should have been focused on investments in workforce development or mental health supports in the education system for our students who are still recovering from the trauma of the pandemic, PA Republicans instead gave tax breaks to people buying helicopters and let the Amazons and Wal-Marts in our state, who reaped the rewards of the pandemic, continue to pay zero in taxes. It’s clear that the majority’s priorities are not focused on everyday Pennsylvanians.”

“While this budget contains innumerable missed opportunities, there are some bright spots that I hope can be a beacon for ongoing discussions regarding other needed improvements.”

  • “There was a $300 million investment in Pennsylvania schools, including approximately $3.5 million in Basic and Special Education Funding coming to school districts serving the 12th Senate District.”
  • “I am glad to see the $30 million investment in Pre-K Counts and Head Start. Child care centers and the families who depend on them were among the hardest hit during the pandemic and this funding will offer them some long overdue assistance.”
  • “I am also glad to see the additional $15 million to fund housing and other services for adults with autism and intellectual disabilities, something I’ve heard about from a number of constituents, some of whom have family members who have been waitlisted for such services for years.”
  • “I am pleased to see the restoration of previously-raided funds which support our environment and clean drinking water, including $13 million to Environmental Stewardship Fund, $26.5 million to the PENNVEST Drinking Water Revolving Fund and $9 Million to PENNVEST Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund. It’s time to get serious about investing in environmental protection and water cleanup so future Pennsylvanians can have access to our natural resources. Now is the time for the Senate to take up my bills SB 611 and SB 612 which taken together will address the ongoing PFAS contamination crisis which exists in my district and across the Commonwealth.”

Senator Collett is available for follow up interviews this week.