Harrisburg, PA (STL.News) Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf delivered his budget address for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The governor laid out a plan that lowers taxes for working families while making a historic investment in public education.
The governor’s plan will lower barriers – like underfunded schools, an unfair tax system and an unlivable minimum wage – that make life harder for Pennsylvania families. The plan will reaffirm our commitment to build the strongest education system in the country, cut taxes for working families, get Pennsylvania back on track after the pandemic, build on bipartisan progress and change Harrisburg by demanding accountability.
The plan calls for major investments that will help Pennsylvanians succeed, including fully and fairly funding our schools so that all students receive a high-quality education and reforming our workforce development system to address inequities, support workers and establish the well-trained workforce businesses need. At the same time, the governor’s plan will cut taxes for businesses and working class families.
“It is possible for us to have a budget that works for families, for businesses and for our economy,” said Gov. Wolf. “By improving the quality of education our children receive and cutting taxes for families just starting out, we are investing in our future – a future in which more Pennsylvanians can build financial stability for themselves and their children.”
The governor’s plan has received broad support from education professionals, good government groups, faith leaders, labor organizations, environmental advocates and others.
See what they have to say:
Bishop Dwayne Royster, POWER Interfaith Executive Director
“Budgets are moral documents. This greatly increased education budget, with the majority distributed in a more equitable way, reflects the commitment of our interfaith leaders to the students of Pennsylvania and the future of the Commonwealth. For years we have called on Gov. Wolf to fully fund and fairly distribute the resources needed to educate our students and we are glad to see him answer our call.”
“We applaud Governor Wolf for a bold proposal that meets the unique moment we find ourselves in. From pushing for a long-overdue increase in the minimum wage to investments in workforce development and small business assistance, to an historic increase in funding for public education and tax cuts for working families, this is the kind of bold investment in our communities that will help Pennsylvania rebuild, rebound and move towards a better future.
“Now is not the time for our leaders to hesitate. We cannot reverse the health and economic devastation left in the wake of a global pandemic with a tepid response from our elected officials. Governor Wolf is drawing a line in the sand, and we can only hope that Republican leadership in the General Assembly will be willing to join the governor, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to make these pragmatic investments that their constituents and their communities so badly need.”
PA School Works
“We support a $1.5 billion public investment that is dedicated to moving Pennsylvania toward funding each school district equitably and adequately, with the resources to support it. Let’s get to work.”
PSEA President Rich Askey
“We commend the governor for his ongoing commitment to public education. There is nothing more important than investing in our schools and students. Gov. Wolf has been a leader on these issues, and PSEA looks forward to a continued partnership with him and lawmakers from both parties to ensure our students are successful and our schools are fairly funded.
“Like PSEA, Gov. Wolf has made it a priority throughout his term in office to advocate for equitably and adequately funding all of Pennsylvania’s schools. These issues are very important to PSEA, and we are grateful that this historic proposal elevates these critical issues.
“We look forward to fully reviewing this plan and identifying opportunities for PSEA to work with the governor and the Legislature to find the best and fairest way possible to achieve greater equity and adequacy in school funding. This is an issue that PSEA has long championed and will continue to do so.”
AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder
“The pandemic has made it clearer than ever that Pennsylvanians need a budget that invests in our communities and our future. Our Commonwealth is in a position that requires a reckoning of decades of disinvestment, neglect, and apathy. The most vulnerable have had to bear the brunt of the devastation. We fully support raising the minimum wage and building financial security for working families.”
“Rebuilding our workforce is more important than ever, and we are excited to be part of re-envisioning workforce and economic development. We were part of the multi-stakeholder Workforce Development Command Center, and now the problems and solutions we identified will be addressed. We need to raise wages for workers, and that starts with the most vulnerable workers,” stated President Rick Bloomingdale.
“Reinvesting in education and educators is a commonsense approach to addressing long-standing inequality and building a better future for Pennsylvania. Our schools were already some of the most segregated in our country. This systemic discrimination, compounded with income inequality, especially affects people of color, leaving them further behind. The worst consequence of this is the overall impact inequality has had on children, whose future will have an impact on us all.”
“Brick and mortar schools face unprecedented challenges without the full support and adequate funding they need, while cyber and charter schools continue to exploit an unregulated system. Many of these for-profit institutions take full advantage of a global health pandemic to their economic advantage. There is no reason we can’t have a good public school in every community. The inequity of COVID-19’s impact on children in poverty must be a wake-up call for everyone. Furthermore, Pennsylvanians need good jobs that sustain families and raise the quality of life for working families in our communities,” remarked Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.
SEIU President of the State Council and Vice President of Local 32BJ Gabe Morgan
“SEIU members work tirelessly everyday to ensure that our basic way of life is not disrupted during the real threat of COVID-19, the threat of police violence or the growing existential threats to our democracy. They deserve to work in and send their children to safe, functioning schools and to earn more than a poverty wage. That’s why we stand strong with Governor Wolf on this budget and call on the state legislature to do its part to see it through.”
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools Executive Director Dr Edward Albert
“This robust budget proposal for education is much needed. Too long Pennsylvania has been one of the worst states for funding education. This proposal allows Pennsylvania schools to educate students so they may be competitive, in the world upon high school graduation. Thanks Governor Wolf for the courage to propose this budget.”
PA Budget and Policy Center
“Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for the year that begins in July 2021 is a bold plan to address not only the problems facing Pennsylvania’s students, workers, and businesses as a result of the pandemic, but also the economic and racial inequities that have plagued our state for decades.”
We The People PA
“Governor Wolf presented his 2021-2022 budget under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic afflicting our state and country, the resulting economic recession, and protests against police violence. In response, the governor has proposed a budget that addresses taxes, education, wages, and criminal justice so that all Pennsylvanians can benefit, no matter where they live or what they look like. His proposals will begin to break down the economic, racial, gender and immigration status inequities that for too long have limited the ability of too many Pennsylvanians to thrive.”
“Governor Wolf’s 2021-2022 budget address demonstrates the need to move Pennsylvania forward in a way that unites us behind the important decisions facing the Legislature. We are pleased with the Governor’s focus on improving the lives of the everyday working people and ensuring that we get through this pandemic and begin to rebuild our communities and livelihoods. With the looming pandemic that has had devastating impacts on the Commonwealth not yet behind us, Governor Wolf has proposed investments in our communities, education, schools, workforce and small businesses that will lay the foundation of a shared economic recovery, building a better Pennsylvania for all families. UFCW Local 1776 is steadfast in our support of the Administration’s proposal for a $15.00 minimum wage increase and ending pre-emption against minimum wage, a policy that is long overdue. Furthermore, we are excited to partner with the Legislature in the quest for legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis in a way that is worker friendly and helps deliver valuable revenue for the Commonwealth. While there is much more work to be done, we believe this budget proposal puts working Pennsylvanians first and are pleased to support it.”
Education Voters of PA
“Governor Wolf’s budget proposal demonstrates that he understands the extensive unmet needs in Pennsylvania’s public schools and the unfairness of our current funding system. The proposed historic investment of $1.5 billion in public K-12 education would substantially increase resources available to students in the commonwealth’s most profoundly underfunded schools and make significant progress toward closing the resource and opportunity gaps that harm our most vulnerable children and threaten Pennsylvania’s future workforce, tax base, and economy.
“Gov. Wolf’s proposed charter school funding reforms would bring even more fairness to the commonwealth’s school funding system by more closely matching charter school tuition payments with the schools’ actual costs and saving more than $200 million in taxpayer money each year. No charter school should reap a profit off of students with disabilities. And cyber charter schools should not be awash in so much excess funding that they can waste millions of taxpayer dollars every year on multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, lavish CEO salaries, and more.”
Clean Power PA Coalition
“The Clean Power PA coalition applauds Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to use hundreds of millions of dollars in annual proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to support Pennsylvania workers and create economic growth. The Governor is seeking to use RGGI funds to assist workers and communities affected by the rapidly changing energy landscape, help industrial and commercial businesses reduce carbon emissions, create jobs through investments in greenhouse gas abatement, energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy, and empower communities that have experienced disproportionate environmental impacts.
“Once approved, RGGI could produce as much as half a billion dollars for Pennsylvania in its first year alone. We can’t afford not to join our neighboring northeast states that have been able to take advantage of billions of dollars of economic investment through RGGI.
“In his proposal, Governor Wolf clearly recognizes the economic reality Pennsylvania faces – when it comes to energy generation, the ground is shifting beneath our feet — and it’s happening quickly. Pennsylvania must move forward to take advantage of new economic and energy opportunities, and RGGI is an opportunity to do so while tackling climate change and protecting public health.”