Senate Approves Fiscally Responsible State Budget

The Senate today (June 30) approved a Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget plan that provides increased state support for education and other key services and programs without adding to the tax burden of Pennsylvania families, according to Senator Scott Hutchinson.

House Bill 1192 is a balanced budget that includes no new taxes or tax increases and $370 million in new money toward education. The comprehensive budget proposal also includes fundamental changes to the state’s pension and liquor systems.

The budget contains:

  • $30.1 billion in total state spending.
  • $100 million new state dollars for basic education that is combined with reforms to the basic education funding formula and improvements in accountability.
  • $20 million more for special education.
  • $30 million more for early education, including Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
  • $300 million in savings for the state and school districts to pay for capital improvements.
  • $50 million across the board for higher education.
  • $2.8 million to address avian flu.
  • Expanding community-based services for seniors to help keep them in their homes and communities.
  • Structural reform to the pension system, which is the primary cost driver for the state and school districts.
  • $200 million in additional revenues through liquor reforms.

“This budget allocates the state’s financial resources in a fiscally responsible manner that provides essential support for key programs and services and provides $370 million in new dollars for education in Pennsylvania. The budget accomplishes this without a tax increase. I joined with the majority of my colleagues in the Senate and House who simply could not support the massive tax increases and expansion of government that the Governor requested. We cannot ask working families to assume a greater tax burden simply to support the Administration’s request for a massive increase in state spending.”

The budget package also incorporates projected saving in public pension costs created by the passage of Senate Bill 1, a measure restructuring the state’s two public employee pension systems – the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System – in order to make them viable in the long term.

“Public pension reform must be a priority for Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 1 is an essential package of reforms needed to prevent a further mortgaging of the Commonwealth’s future,” Senator Hutchinson said. “The move toward defined contribution plans for future public employees better reflects the options offered to private sector employees and puts Pennsylvania back on track for a sustainable future.”

Also among the bills approved by the Senate on Tuesday was House Bill 466, which amends the Liquor Code to divest the Commonwealth’s wholesale and retail wine and spirits system. The bill provides for the closure of State Stores, wholesale permits for importers, wine and liquor to-go sales in grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and beer distributors, as well as educational assistance for displaced employees.

“This moves Pennsylvania beyond the outdated legacy of the Prohibition Era,” Senator Hutchinson said. “Pennsylvanians have made it abundantly clear that they want to get the Commonwealth out of the business of alcohol sales. This bill respects the will of the people and provides a responsible transition period that helps the employees that will be affected by the change.”

Contact:          Justin Leventry           (717) 787-9684




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