Republican Legislative Leaders Unveil Substantial Increases in Education Funding as part of 2015-16 Budget Plan

(HARRISBURG) – Senate and House Republican leadership today unveiled the 2015-16 budget plan that adds considerable funding to education without adding to the tax burden of Pennsylvania families. The budget plan is on track to be presented to the governor before the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30.

The Senate and House Republican plan is a balanced budget that includes no new taxes or tax increases and $200 million in new money toward education. It also includes fundamental changes to the state’s pension and liquor systems. Historic majorities elected this year in the Senate and House continue to move Pennsylvania forward with their mandate for responsible spending, not massive tax increases.

“This budget reflects our continued commitment to reject excessive spending and tax hikes that could hurt our state’s economic future and our ability to compete. Instead, we are doing what working families do every day – living within our means,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson County).

“This is an historic moment in moving Pennsylvania forward,” Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) said.  “We are passing a pro-jobs, fiscally responsible budget that will grow jobs while increasing funding in education, fully funding human services and corrections and moving Pennsylvanians into the 21st century for public pensions and the sale of wine and spirits.”

“We have produced a responsible budget and spending plan that is based in the economic reality of what our families can afford,” said Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre County). “We provide sizeable increases in funding for education while controlling the cost of state government and allowing taxpayers to keep more of their money in their pockets. Legislative support for massive tax increases to support significant spending increases does not exist.”

“We have crafted a responsible, balanced budget which funds our schools, essential human services and keeps government operating without making life harder for our middle class and hard-working families,” House Majority Leader, Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana) said. “The budget also tackles the No. 1 cost driver in the state and school district budgets – our pension obligations. By reforming our public pension system, we are ensuring retirees and current employees receive the benefits they’ve earned while securing the system for future employees and ensuring affordability for the taxpayers.”

“This budget plan makes significant increases in all aspects of education – early childhood, special education, K-12 and higher education – without asking taxpayers to pay more,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh County) said. “It is a fiscally-sound and balanced proposal that spends $1.5 billion less than the Governor’s request and it does so without raising taxes or further burdening employers in Pennsylvania.”

“Once the governor’s tax increases were rejected by a unanimous bipartisan vote, we rolled up our sleeves and started drafting a budget that could pass the General Assembly and still supported our state’s top priorities in education, human services, agriculture, and public safety without a tax increase,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware County) said. “A government that works evaluates and reevaluates existing programs and spending to make sure all programs are achieving the intended results. This proposal is the product of hard work scrutinizing each and every program and account to make sure that before we ran to tax payers for more money—we were certain existing programs were working.”

The budget contains:

  • No new taxes or tax increases.
  • $30.1 billion in total state spending.
  • $100 million new state dollars for basic education that is combined with reforms to the basic education funding formula and improvements in accountability.
  • $20 million for special education.
  • $30 million for early education, including Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
  • $300 million in savings for the state and school districts to pay for capital improvements.
  • $41 million across the board for higher education.
  • $2.8 million to address avian flu.
  • Expanding community-based services for seniors to help keep them in their homes and communities.
  • Structural reform to the pension system, which is the No. 1 cost driver for the state and school districts.
  • $200 million in additional revenues through liquor reforms.
  • Stronger state revenues, meaning the deficit is not at the levels previously anticipated.

CONTACTS: 

Jenn Kocher (717) 772-9846, jkocher@pasen.gov

Steve Miskin (717) 705-1852, smiskin@pahousegop.com