Harrisburg, June 29, 2016 − Senate Bill 1073, the $31.5 billion dollar spending plan for fiscal year 2016-2017, saw overdue bi-partisan support today in the Senate with a final tally of 47-3 to move it one step closer to becoming a reality in the Commonwealth.
A full day in advance of the Commonwealth budget deadline, the Senate amended additional language into proposal first moved across the Capitol by the House in the late evening on June 28th, a plan that also saw bi-partisan support in that chamber.
“I am so encouraged to see legislators working together, Democrat and Republican, House and Senate, in support of a fair and pragmatic spending proposal that drives this Commonwealth forward,” said Wiley.
Addressing an established priority of many legislators and the Wolf Administration, Senate Bill 1073 includes $200 million in additional funding for basic education, which would translate into almost $3.6 million for Erie’s Public Schools, the largest school district in Erie County. The plan includes an additional $20 million for Special Education funding, $25 million for PreK Counts and $5 million for Head Start Programs.
Different than the House proposal, Senate Bill 1073 as amended by the Senate includes a 2.5% increase in funding for higher education rounding out the education investment package.
“There is no greater responsibility of the General Assembly than to invest in the future of this Commonwealth and that future begins and ends in public education,” Wiley added.
Additionally, the proposal includes $15 million in support of strategic initiatives to combat the growing heroin and opioid addiction crises plaguing the Commonwealth.
“We are needlessly losing people, young and old, everyday to the illness of opioid addiction,” lamented Wiley.
Senate Bill 1073 is tied into new sources of revenue from liquor modernization, expanded gambling, new taxes on tobacco products and a tax amnesty program. Many of those proposals have yet to be deliberated and may see consideration in the coming days.
Due to the amendments added by the Senate, Senate Bill 1073 requires concurrence by the House of Representatives prior to presentation to the Governor. The House concurrence vote is expected in short order.
Again encouraged by the decisiveness on key issues, Wiley concluded, “I have long criticized this General Assembly for not coming together and for letting partisan politics drive agendas. Today was not that and today was a good day for Pennsylvania.”