Pa. Senate sends 2022-23 budget spending plan to Wolf’s desk

Eight days into the new fiscal year, Pennsylvania is one step closer to having a finalized budget.

The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate on Friday voted 47-3 to approve a $45.2 billion spending plan, sending it to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for approval. 

The governor, who leaves office in January 2023, has signaled support for the 2022-23 state budget.

The House of Representatives approved the general appropriations bill in a 180-20 vote with little debate on Thursday.

The plan includes an $850 million increase for K-12 school districts, more money for mental health, and the largest investment in environmental protection in a decade. 

It would increase spending by 2.9 percent over the 2021-22 budget and includes a $2.1 billion deposit to the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The proposal also includes an outline for spending $2.2 billion in federal relief dollars for water and sewer projects, affordable housing and home repair, and refiling the state’s unemployment trust fund to avoid a tax increase for employers.

“This is an example of the collective, cooperative, collaborative action that our constituents want from us,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairperson Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, said ahead of Friday afternoon’s floor vote.

Philadelphia Democrat Sen. Vincent Hughes, who serves as his party’s chair on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the plan “enhances the ball in a very dramatic way.”

“These are not perfect documents,” he added, saying the spending plan reflects “compromise.” “But there are certainly some very significant items in this budget bill that we must pay attention to.”

The spending proposal also increases Level Up funding for the state’s 100 poorest school districts by $225 million and special education funding by $100 million. One-time grant programs for school security and mental health investments would each receive $100 million.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education would receive a $75 million increase in general fund money and $125 million in pandemic funding to pay for the ongoing process of integrating its campuses.

It also provides tax relief for individuals and businesses with a brand new state child tax credit, increased property tax rebates for senior citizens, and a reduction in the corporate net income tax to gradually bring Pennsylvania into line with other states.

On Thursday, House Republican leaders highlighted the proposal’s tax relief provisions, including a state child care tax credit equal to 30 percent of the federal credit, a one-time 70 percent property tax rebate for senior citizens, and more money for the utility assistance program.

House Appropriations Chairperson Stan Saylor, R-York, said on the House floor that the package is the most comprehensive fiscal plan he has seen in his 30 years in the Legislature.

“I want to thank all four caucuses for working together to put us in a fiscally responsible position for moving forward,” Saylor said. “This is a comprehensive budget that puts the needs of people before the needs of government.”



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Marley Parish

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