Norristown, PA. – February 8, 2022 – Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-17 Montgomery/Delaware) attended Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address earlier today. The Governor’s 2022-2023 budget proposal includes a strong investment in Pennsylvania’s public education including special education, childcare, and Pre-K and focuses on improving the public health of Pennsylvania.
Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti responds to Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget in the following statement:
“This year, our Commonwealth has an unprecedented opportunity to invest money in places that Pennsylvanians have been demanding investments for years. Our expected budget surplus of $6 billion gives Pennsylvania the resources to invest in school funding, criminal justice reform, and public health initiatives that have the potential to transform Pennsylvania’s future.
I’m thrilled to see a proposal included to invest $77.7 million in federal funds towards making childcare more affordable and accessible for Pennsylvanians, addressing one of the biggest concerns I hear from my constituents. As we turn a corner in this pandemic, this investment will go a long way to helping families get back to work.
I commend Governor Wolf for his plan to invest $1.9 billion into education, from pre-K to college, including $1.25 billion to be run through the Fair Funding Formula. This investment plan also includes a $70 million increase in state funds for early childhood education, allowing thousands more young Pennsylvanians to access the various programming we have available. It proposes an increase of $200 million in special education funding to support students across the Commonwealth.
While the Governor provided us a good starting place for budget negotiations, I will be advocating throughout the process to ensure the Level Up funding allocation will go to 200 of the most underfunded public schools in Pennsylvania, rather than the proposed top 100 schools. Our public school system has needed strong investments for decades and we cannot let this opportunity pass us by. We have the funds to help students all across the commonwealth receive a high-quality public education. As we move further into budget season, this increase will be a priority.
I applaud the Governor’s plan to reduce recidivism in our Commonwealth through investments in reentry supports and expanding Clean Slate to provide comprehensive reform and ensure true progress in eliminating the stigma of a conviction. These investments into our reentry services will be crucial for Pennsylvanians who have served their sentence.
As a public health expert, I support the Governor’s proposals to provide increase funding for direct patient care, skilled nursing facilities, mental health supports, and increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The plan includes a $36.6 million increase in county mental health base funds and $50 million to increase the supplementary payment rates for personal care homes to invest in supportive services and caregivers.
Last year’s budget failed to fund the Security Grants program – a program meant to help vulnerable and targeted communities stay safe. I cannot thank the Governor enough to re-introducing this program into his budget and providing our communities with the resources they need to protect themselves from hate and stay safe.
Additionally, I will again be fighting to eliminate funding for anti-abortion centers from Pennsylvania’s budget. Over the last 12 years, Pennsylvania has spent over $86 million of taxpayer dollars crisis pregnancy centers that try to steer women away from having abortions, ranking second in the nation for this kind of funding, behind the state of Texas. Our tax dollars should not go to funding shame-based, non-medical centers that are focused on dissuading people from exercising all their options in vulnerable situations.
These are a few of the very important and historic investments that we can provide Pennsylvanians and will pay off for years to come. We can raise the minimum wage. We can fund our schools more equitably. We can provide more for Pennsylvanians and not give into lobbyist or corporate interests. After over two years of economic ups and downs, facing pandemic related obstacles, and straining many of our institutions, we must deliver this budget season.”