Harrisburg, Pa. – House Bill 790, the General Appropriations portion of the 2019-20 state budget, passed the state House yesterday by a vote of 140-62, with the legislation moving to state Senate. Both State Reps. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union) and Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming) issued statements on the bill.
According to State Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union), Chairman of the House State Government Committee, “The 2019-20 House Republican budget proposal builds upon the tremendous success of our previous three budgets, which kept our promises to Pennsylvanians on excessive spending and taxes. It continues our pro-growth policies by not including any tax increases or new taxes or fees, such as the governor’s proposed severance tax or state police fee on municipalities.
“Our budget spends $33.997 billion, which is $149 million less than the governor’s budget proposal. It also ensures that Pennsylvanians are protected from increased taxes during the next economic downturn by investing about $300 million into the existing $75 million Rainy Day Fund," Everett said.
"We believe it was vital to rein in wasteful spending and improve our fiscal standing by replenishing the Rainy Day Fund and investing in targeted programs that will have the highest payoff for our agriculture sector and educational institutions.
“It contains an increase of $432 million for PreK-12 education and $160 million more for Basic Education Funding, as well as $25 million more for Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program that help more families afford a quality education. On average, all of the school districts in the 84th District received an increase of 2% or more in funding.
“We also maintained our commitment to career and technical education by including a $10 million investment in career and technical education (CTE) – $7 million to the CTE line item and $3 million for equipment grants. Additionally, a 2% funding increase has been allocated for Penn State’s Ag extension, which will help younger generations enter the farming sector.
Everett added that "All of the governor’s proposed cuts to agriculture were restored, including new funding in the amount of $1 million for Livestock and Consumer Protection, and $2 million for Animal Health and Diagnostics Commission. In addition, a new fund was created for Agriculture Business and Workforce Investment. Overall, we are hoping to see a 12.8% increase in state spending for our farmers. This is vital for the local economy of Lycoming County, which is the Commonwealth’s largest rural community.
“Another item of importance to rural Pennsylvania is our 20% increase in funding for Lyme Disease awareness, prevention and research programs. I am incredibly appreciative of these efforts to help curb one of our most prominent issues in my district.
“I urge my Senate colleagues to move this budget along to the governor for his signature so that we can continue to put Pennsylvanians first and ensure a brighter future for our Commonwealth.”
Rep. Jeff Wheeland, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also made statements on the bill's passage.
"I was proud to vote for a budget that spends within the Taxpayer Bill of Rights rate of 2% growth and does not include any tax increases or new taxes or fees," commented Wheeland.
"The 2019-20 House Republican budget proposal protects our natural gas industry and energy consumers from an expensive severance tax that was proposed by the governor. It also does not include the governor’s desired state police fee on municipalities, which was worrying to many people in my district who cannot afford more tax hikes," Wheeland said.
“Our growing economy is benefiting from our past three budgets which have kept taxes and spending below the governor’s desired rates. Thanks to our efforts in the House, Pennsylvania’s revenues are up, and we are able to invest in our Rainy Day Fund to protect taxpayers in the event of future economic hard times. Our budget puts about $300 million into the Rainy Day Fund which currently contains only $75 million.
“In addition, we made sure to invest in quality education by including support for education options such as private, charter and online schools. Our budget would ensure targeted funding of $432 million for preK-12 education and $160 million more for Basic Education Funding, as well as $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program. Both school districts in the 83rd District, South Williamsport Area and Williamsport Area, received funding increases. I’m also especially pleased that Pennsylvania College of Technology located in Williamsport was allocated $4 million to help further its mission of placing students into family-sustaining careers."