Budget package includes pro-jobs bill
HARRISBURG – A 2021-22 state budget that meets current needs while looking ahead to fiscal challenges in future years garnered the support of Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) last week at the state Capitol. The state budget package passed the House on Friday night and is expected to be signed by the governor in the coming days.
The budget, which totals nearly $40 billion, does not contain any of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed tax increases and only uses about half of the state’s federal America Recovery Act money. The rest will be encumbered to assist with future budgets, as the state’s financial picture continues to become clearer over the next two to three years.
“The influx of federal money helped us balance this budget and helped the Commonwealth continue its recovery from the pandemic,” Oberlander said. “Over the past year, families all across this Commonwealth have had to budget more tightly because of the pandemic, and it’s important that our state budget reflects that same goal. This is a responsible, sustainable budget.”
Oberlander noted that rural Pennsylvania and the needs of areas like the 63rd Legislative District are key components in the new budget. They include:
• $5 million was earmarked for addressing EMS and fire services, particularly in rural Pennsylvania, that in recent years struggled to survive, leaving a pressing need for our rural communities.
• $282 million in federal relief funds for nursing homes, assisted living and personal care homes to ensure they have the necessary protective protection equipment for their residents and workers.
• Historic investments in agriculture, including protecting the agriculture research and development programs and an additional $3 million for the State Food Purchase Program.
• $44 million for career and technical schools to train for the needs of Pennsylvania’s workforce.
• $279 million to make up for pandemic-related losses in the Motor License Fund to provide for critical transportation infrastructure needs.
Education funding was also a key component of the budget, with the General Assembly opting to invest additional federal money into Pennsylvania’s schools. The pandemic took a toll on Pennsylvania’s students, with even the most dedicated districts seeing learning loss in students from pandemic interruptions. These funds will help with tutoring, summer enrichment and afterschool programs, and others to help meet the needs of our students. Higher education will also benefit from the budget package with $50 million more for the State System of Higher Education.
The budget package also included Oberlander’s House Bill 952
, which as originally drafted to create family-sustaining jobs through the construction and expansion of data centers with a sales tax exemption. This measure has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in an emerging industry while also serving as a catalyst for greater broadband deployment. The bill was expanded to include other worthy programs, including a local resource manufacturing tax credit, credits for multipurpose agriculture vehicles and breast pumps, and also providing for increasing crop insurance coverage.
Once signed, the budget takes effect July 1.
Representative Donna Oberlander
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton