What Pa’s advocacy community had to say about Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget | Friday Morning Coffee

A view, across the spectrum of issues, on the Democratic governor’s first spending blueprint

By: - March 10, 2023 7:14 am
Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro delivers his first budget address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, 3/7/23 (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).

Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro delivers his first budget address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).

If there’s one constituency — behind state lawmakers — that has significant thoughts about a governor’s budget proposal, it’s Pennsylvania’s advocacy community and the galaxy of interest groups, constituencies, and causes that it represents.

And after he delivered an exhaustive speech to the General Assembly earlier this week that seemingly left no budgetary stone unturned, those same advocacy groups weighed in on Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $44.4 billion spending blueprint for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Below, a sampling of some of that reaction.

POWER Interfaith:

“In this moment, with the unprecedented multi-billion dollar surplus available to address deeply unjust education, funding disparities remain. Governor Shapiro’s $567 million proposed increase for Basic Education Funding is a modest 7.8% increase that barely keeps pace with inflation. The governor knows full well that Pennsylvania has allowed school districts in the least wealthy areas of the state to languish.

” … We demand that the general assembly swiftly rectify the effects of decades of an unconstitutional education system, restore Level-Up funding with an addition of $400 million, adopt $750 million in new Basic Education Funding, and utilize the unprecedented near $12 billion budget surpluses, including the Rainy Day Fund to repair toxic schools as outlined by [state Sen.] Vince Hughes [D-Philadelphia].

Adam Garber, executive director, CeaseFire PA Education Fund:

“[Tuesday’s] announcement validates a simple fact: the community has the solutions. For years, local leaders have stepped in to de-escalate conflict, connect high-risk individuals to social service programs, and mentor youth to stop the cycle of violence and trauma from continuing. This continued investment will give these evidence-based programs the fuel they need to disrupt gun violence before another life is lost.”

“These programs have received bipartisan support before. We urge the General Assembly to follow Governor Shapiro’s leadership and continue to provide focused, sustained investment in safer communities.”

Andy Carter, president and CEO, Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania: 

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals thank Governor Shapiro for calling attention during his budget address to the importance of investing in the health care workforce, Pennsylvanians’ mental health, and access to care in rural communities. Pennsylvania’s health care infrastructure is in crisis and we need state investments to help ensure the financial sustainability of hospitals and safeguard access to care.

“We appreciate the governor’s plans to provide incentives for nurses to practice in the commonwealth and expedite licensure. Pennsylvania’s health care workforce shortage is among the worst in the nation. We need a comprehensive strategy to grow and support health care professionals, including expanding the training and education pipeline and ensuring that health care professionals can quickly get to work caring for patients.

“The commonwealth also needs more behavioral health services throughout all settings so that Pennsylvanians can get the care they need, when and where they need it. The governor’s proposals to begin ramping up funding for county-provided behavioral health services and to invest in students’ mental health are good steps to support Pennsylvanians’ well-being.”

David Kennedy, president, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association:

Gov. Shapiro recognizes the first duty of government is the safety of its citizens. We would like to commend him for providing a dedicated funding stream for the Pennsylvania State Police and proposing four new cadet classes in the next state budget to hire 384 new troopers, as well as the additional steps he wants to take to provide more law enforcement officers for Pennsylvania’s communities.

“Right now, the biggest issue law enforcement faces is the recruitment and retention of good police officers. Here in the commonwealth, Pennsylvania police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police have not been immune. Departments across Pennsylvania, and America, are suffering from some of their lowest numbers ever. In 2019, before the pandemic, police recruitment in the United States was already dire. The resignation rate in 2020-21 increased by 18% and the retirement rate rose by 45%, according to a survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum.”

REFORM Alliance Chief Advocacy and Operations Officer Jessica Jackson:

“We are thrilled to hear the governor calling for evidence-based public safety solutions around parole and probation. For too long, the Commonwealth’s probation system has burdened individuals and families, while providing too few avenues for successful exit, even after years of supervision. Proposals to reform our probation system in Pennsylvania have received bipartisan support because they would help give people involved in the criminal justice system a build for a successful future, fully integrated into their families, communities, and our economy. We will continue to work with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the legislature to help bring these reforms into law.”

Pa. House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).
Pa. House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).

Signe Espinoza, executive director, Planned Parenthood PA:

Governor Shapiro has proposed a budget here that invests in communities, future generations, and essential services and programs. We know that a budget is bigger than the numbers on a page; it’s a statement of priorities. We hear politicians tell us what they care about every election season, but when they propose a budget, they’re showing us what really matters. Governor Shapiro has shown us that he cares about our families, and we thank him for that.

“We are particularly happy with the major investment in fighting maternal mortality, which is a huge problem in this state and especially among patients of color. We do have questions about state funds being allocated to Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). These centers advance an anti-abortion agenda and fail to provide unbiased information to the pregnant people who walk through their doors. CPCs outnumber medical clinics 9 to 1 without providing any real, medical care. We look forward to working with the Shapiro Administration to ensure funding goes to organizations that provide care and do not advance an extreme, anti-abortion agenda.”

Chellie Cameron, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia:  

“The Chamber thanks Governor Shapiro for his comments emphasizing an innovative, inclusive economy which provides opportunity to all Pennsylvanians. I look forward to working with the Governor to grow businesses and create jobs throughout the Greater Philadelphia region and the Commonwealth.

“The Chamber is pleased to see the Governor’s call for investments in Pennsylvania’s education and workforce, public safety, and energy development.  We share the Governor’s vision for the Commonwealth as a leader in innovation, job creation, and economic development through a more competitive business tax and regulatory climate.”

Rich Askey, president, Pennsylvania State Education Association:

“As a candidate, Josh Shapiro promised to make public education a priority. Now, Gov. Shapiro is clearly focused on delivering on those promises. The governor’s budget proposal puts public education at the very top of his priority list. Public school students, parents, educators, and support professionals need his support to address the challenges they face. His budget plan shows that they have it.

Gov. Shapiro is right to say that we need to be thoughtful and deliberative about this but aggressive at the same time. We’ve been grappling with problems related to Pennsylvania’s school funding system for a generation. We’re not going to solve this problem overnight, but we must solve it. We need to do it soon, but we also need to do it right.”


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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.