Donatucci supports budget investing in schools, human services

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, and chairwoman of the Philadelphia County Delegation to the House of Representatives, issued the following statement after the House passed the state budget bill today:

“I am hopeful that today’s bipartisan support of Senate Bill 1073 means that Pennsylvania will soon have a balanced, timely budget. Our schools and human service organizations, especially those in Philadelphia, cannot afford another lengthy and irresponsible budget impasse.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have had some time to reflect on the fiscal spending plan. While the legislation will not solve all of the state’s financial woes, especially in such a difficult budget year, it will go a long way in supporting our students and vulnerable residents.

“Pennsylvania’s schools will receive an increase of $250 million overall from the previous fiscal year, which is welcome news. This figure includes $200 million for K-12, $30 million for pre-K and Head Start, and a $20 million increase for special education. As a result, the School District of Philadelphia would receive a basic education funding increase of $47,067,862, or 4.6 percent, and a special education funding boost of $3,210,990, or 2.4 percent.

“Philadelphia’s students have gone far too long with fewer teachers, extracurricular activities and support staff. We have a constitutional obligation to provide our students a quality education, and part of that responsibility involves allocating sufficient funds to our schools, as the legislature is doing this year.

“The budget would also include a $15 million investment to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic that’s plaguing so many of our communities. Nearly 700 people died of opioid overdoses in Philadelphia in 2014, which demonstrates the dire need for immediate action. This funding, dedicated to emergency addiction treatment and behavioral health services, would help provide critical resources to those Pennsylvanians and their families struggling with this public health crisis.

“Though this isn’t a perfect budget, it makes major investments in our schools and our human service organizations, which have been shortchanged in recent years. I am hopeful the governor will soon sign this bill into law.”