Investing in health care, human services and other priorities for local communities while being mindful of future financial challenges, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) Thursday voted in favor of a 2022-23 state budget.
“Pennsylvania families are hurting right now, with inflation and the costs of goods and services markedly up, and this budget directly reflects those realities and makes numerous investments to help our families, communities and job creators,” said Oberlander. “We know that the increased revenue will not last forever, and that’s why we also wanted to set aside a large portion for the future while addressing critical needs.”
The new state budget, which was signed by the governor on Friday, will spend a total of $42.8 billion. State tax revenues were up for the 2021-22 fiscal year, and coupled with significant federal dollars, the Commonwealth is starting the new budget year in the black.
Most significant, Oberlander noted, is the increased investments in health care and human services. To assist with their critical funding crisis, local EMS providers will see an increase in their Medicaid reimbursements for basic life support, advanced life support and mileage. Other health care funding items will be directed to long-term care settings and those with special needs, along with home visiting programs for new mothers.
For mental health, each school district will receive another $200,000, coupled with an existing state grant program for school safety and security, to address those needs. This will be in addition to increases to their subsidies for basic and special education.
Furthermore, $50 million will be used for gun violence investigation and prosecution grants and $100 million in one-time federal funds for a collaborative mental health initiative. This is expected to be integrated care to deliver timely psychiatric care in a primary health care setting.
Other benefactors of this year’s budget will be small businesses which will be allowed to carry forward tax liabilities and see an expansion of expense deductions. The Corporate Net Income Tax, the second highest in the nation, will also be cut gradually, from 9.99% to 8.99% and then to 4.99%, a major win for job creators across the state.
Elsewhere, the budget includes funding for two new cadet classes within the state police. This budget also meets an accelerated goal of paying for the state police from the General Fund, instead of solely from the Motor License Fund. That will free up hundreds of millions of dollars from the gas tax for highway, road and bridge repairs.
Additional uses for the one-time federal dollars will be one-time increases in the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program for eligible seniors, a first-ever child care credit, and other water and sewer infrastructure projects.
In looking to the future, about $2.1 billion will be deposited into the Rainy Day Fund, for a total of $5 billion.
“This overall budget package contains a lot of items that will directly and positively impact our local residents and rural communities, especially in terms of health and human services,” Oberlander noted. “I am hopeful these additional funds will help ease the hardships they are facing and put us all on a better path ahead.”
Representative Donna Oberlander
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton