Here’s how Pa.’s advocacy community reacted to the 2022-23 state budget

From schools to climate change, a cross-section of comment on the $45.2B spending plan on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk

By: - July 8, 2022 5:07 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania lawmakers have finally approved a $45.2 billion spending plan, sending it to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.  

The state House passed the budget bill in a 180-20 vote on Thursday — a week past its initial deadline. The state Senate followed with a 47-3 vote in favor on Friday, sending it to Wolf.

Included in the bill are cuts to the corporate net income tax. It also would grow the state’s rainy day fund to roughly $5 billion. Public schools, environmental protection programs and long-term care facilities all would receive additional funding. 

Here’s how advocacy groups and their leaders reacted to the budget news. 

PennFuture Chief Executive Officer Jacquelyn Bonomo:

“The impact of the new state budget passed by the General Assembly cannot be overstated in its importance to our environment, open spaces and natural resources, and for the economies that benefit from our state’s clean waters and healthy lands. This is a spending plan that includes a total of $884.75 million for clean water, land conservation, infrastructure, parks, energy efficiency, and forests investments, and is truly generational funding for Pennsylvania.”

Sunrise Movement Pennsylvania State Director Bre Macpherson-Rice:

“Today our elected officials in Pennsylvania used their power to take on the intersecting housing and climate crises. Millions of dollars being spent on job training, displacement-proof home repairs, and climate resilience – This is what the government should be for. In 2020 we sent Nikil Saval to Harrisburg and now he’s fighting for Green New Deal legislation to heal the damage done to our communities, protect people’s homes, and create hundreds of good jobs.”

Pennsylvania Health Care Association:

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier:

“The new Pennsylvania budget is a deep disappointment for Pennsylvania. At a time when the state is flush with cash, the Republican-led General Assembly has failed to meet the immediate needs of the vast majority of Pennsylvanians or invest enough in our future. Yet the budget does include an unnecessary and costly long-term cut in corporate taxes causing a one-year loss of $250 million in revenue in the current fiscal year will grow, to $2.25 billion per year at the end of eight years. Yet the state will still not ask wealthy, multinational corporations to pay anything for the services they receive from our government.

“Over the long term, this corporate tax cut, on top of the $4 billion per year in tax cuts corporations have received over the last fifteen years, will lead to tax increases on working and middle-class Pennsylvanians. And it will make it impossible for us to fully and fairly fund education at all levels, to help all Pennsylvania families secure a decent standard of living, to fix our infrastructure, and to protect our environment and guard against climate change.” 

Pennsylvania Health Care Association Chief Executive Shamberg: 

“Pennsylvania’s seniors and their providers of care can breathe a deep sigh of relief today, as we anticipate a finalized state budget package that will include critical financial assistance for nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living communities.

“Members of the House, Senate and Governor Tom Wolf agree on prioritizing 110,000 seniors and adults with disabilities in this year’s budget. This historic investment in recurring Medicaid funding, coupled with American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars, will not only help sustain care, but deliver an immediate lifeline to a financially at-risk sector.

“This is truly an investment 10 years in the making. PHCA and our 450+ members are proud to stand in support of the General Assembly and Governor Wolf as they join together to direct essential funding to vulnerable seniors, frontline caregivers and long-term care providers throughout the commonwealth.

PA Schools Work:

Pennsylvania State Education Association President Rich Askey: 

“This is a historic budget that will benefit the students of Pennsylvania. It includes more than $1 billion in state funding increases for public schools, which will go to support educational programs that make a difference in the lives of our state’s 1.7 million students.

“Gov. Tom Wolf has made public education his number one priority since the day he took office. In this budget, he made it very clear that a significant funding increase in public schools is necessary to meet the needs of students and educators, improve the availability of mental health services, and keep school buildings safe. Because of his unwavering commitment to public education, that’s exactly what Pennsylvania public schools will get.”

Education Law Center Executive Director Deborah Gordon Klehr:

“The Level Up funding in this year’s budget is another overdue payment that will help to inch our most inequitably funded school districts along the long road toward adequacy. And while this Level Up allocation is not a systemic fix to the inadequacy and inequity of Pennsylvania’s funding system, it is giving these districts a meaningful payment, a step toward a more level playing field for Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students.”

Make the Road PA:

Education Voters of Pennsylvania Executive Director Susan Spicka: 

“Every student in Pennsylvania deserves a chance at success, and Level Up gives students who have missed out because of the zip code they are born into a boost they deserve. We look forward to continue working with legislators, superintendents, educators, taxpayers, and students who all stood up for Level Up.”

We the People, a nonprofit organization against corporate involvement in politics: 

“Budgets reflect our fundamental choices and ideals. Sadly, the budget released today shows that the Republican-dominated General Assembly cares far more about the richest Pennsylvanians and multinational corporations than they do about everyday Pennsylvanians.

“The vast majority of Pennsylvanians—no matter where they were born, where they live, what they look like, or what work they do—have been struggling economically for a long time. And that was true even before corporations started raising prices so dramatically.”

Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director Laura Boyce: 

“This year’s budget represents a sizable down payment toward closing the $4.6 billion adequacy gap in school funding and meeting the needs of the 100 most underresourced school districts, while also addressing critical priorities Teach Plus teachers have brought to policymakers. While much work remains to make our school funding system both adequate and equitable, grow and diversify the educator workforce, and meet the needs of our youngest learners, we are encouraged that the Legislature took advantage of a historic surplus to pass the largest increase in education funding in Pennsylvania history.”

Attorneys leading the Pennsylvania School Funding Lawsuit

“During a four-month trial in Commonwealth Court, our clients made the effects of Pennsylvania’s inequitable and inadequate school funding system impossible to ignore, describing crumbling buildings, overcrowded classrooms, and students falling further behind each year. The profound disparities and resource deprivations faced by students in low-wealth communities in every corner of the commonwealth, fueled by insufficient state funding, are unconscionable and unconstitutional.

“An analysis of state data during the trial  showed that low-wealth districts spend $4,800 less per student than wealthy districts in Pennsylvania. When student need is taken into account—recognizing that students in poverty, students learning English, and students with disabilities require more support to access a quality education—that gap grows to more than $7,000 per student. This budget agreement is an important step to start closing funding gaps, but it does not ensure that students in every community can receive the high-quality education they’re entitled to under the state Constitution.”

Pre-K for PA:

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Pennsylvania state manager Alexanda Abboud: 

“Today’s passage of HB 2032, and the expanded access to victims compensation which passed in HB 2464, are a testament to the advocacy and courage of so many survivors who made their voices heard. What survivors need most while recovering from trauma is to be in control and empowered in their healing process. This is the first step in reducing barriers to healing and adopting safety policies that work – which is why we urge the legislature to pass the remainder of the Safer Pennsylvania Act. We commend Representatives Schroeder, Delozier, and Mihalek for their leadership on behalf of survivors, and Pennsylvania’s Victims Advocate, Suzanna Estrella for her support. We look forward to Governor Wolf’s signature so we can affirm Pennsylvania’s commitment to lifting up survivors in every community.”

CeaseFirePA Executive Director Adam Gaber: 

“The General Assembly’s budget will expand programs working to end a cycle of violence that has gone on for too long in the Commonwealth. Community organizations will hire more outreach workers to de-escalate conflicts before they become shootings. New group violence intervention (GVI) programs will create collaborative partnerships between law enforcement and neighborhoods to provide critical services to those most at-risk for being involved in violence. Trauma-informed care will be able to help survivors heal, not retaliate. And that’s just the start.” 

Lead-Free Promise Project:

Childhood Begins at Home: 

“Childhood Begins at Home is pleased with the historic increase of $15 million for evidence-based home visiting in the Department of Human Services budget to serve an additional 3,800 pregnant women, children and families. In addition, $1 million is earmarked for the Nurse-Family Partnership line item to serve 200 more families.

“Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs mentor parents and others raising children and provide supports to address substance use disorders, develop school readiness, improve maternal and child health, promote economic self-sufficiency, and reduce abuse and neglect.

“Policymakers made a wise decision to diversify funding and meet families where they are in counties across the state so more parents and their children can access the research-proven benefits the home visiting models deliver.

“With this investment, we can increase service levels beyond the 5% of Pennsylvania families currently served.”

United Way of Pennsylvania President Kristen Rotz: 

“Pennsylvania’s new state budget does not provide the tax relief that our state’s hard-working families need. A refundable Earned Income Tax Credit would return some of the hard-earned tax dollars that inflation-ravaged households, who are living paycheck to paycheck, could really use to help pay their bills.

“This bi-partisan effort would also generate an economic impact seven times its cost through $4 of economic growth and $3 dollars in savings for social spending, according to an economic impact analysis United Way commissioned in 2022.

“A state earned income tax credit will generate annual benefits between $562 million to $1.2 billion to the state economy. A refundable state EITC will put $200 to $600 back into workers’ pockets.

“Prior to the pandemic, 39 percent of PA households were working and earning an income that was insufficient to afford just the basic costs of living, including housing and utilities, food, child care and transportation costs. We call these households ALICE – Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.

“While the average income of many households has increased, the costs of the essentials have increased at a higher rate, so there are even more households who are living paycheck to paycheck in 2022.” 

Jaxon White is a summer intern for the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. Follow him on Twitter @Jaxon__White.

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Jaxon White
Jaxon White

Jaxon White is a summer intern for the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association, and a student at Bucknell University, where is editor of the campus newspaper.