House Democrats: Bipartisan spending plan good for Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, June 30 -- House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, Whip Mike Hanna and Appropriations Chairman Joe Markosek released a joint statement today on House passage of a $32 billion 2017-18 spending plan for Pennsylvania:

"The plan passed by the General Assembly today makes new investments in teaching our children, supports efforts to grow more jobs for working men and women, protects core services for state residents and communities, and allows us to continue the fight against the heroin epidemic that is devastating neighborhoods and families.

“Despite another year of revenue shortfalls and a significant structural deficit, Democrats and Republicans worked together to deliver this spending plan to the governor. We have more work to do to finish our budget checklist, but we are confident we will get the job done.

"Democrats advocated strongly for new investments in education, both at the K-through-12 level and in early education. Those increased investments are in this plan -- $100 million for basic education, $25 million for special education and a $30 million boost for Pre-K and Head Start. Early education services are critical to helping more young learners in Pennsylvania prepare for school and success later in life.

"The spending plan helps families by expanding access to quality child care for the children of working parents. That will enable more parents to keep their jobs and support their families. And, the spending bill strengthens the state's partnership with counties, local governments and nonprofits to deliver services for, and respond to the challenges faced by, thousands of Pennsylvania senior citizens, people with intellectual disabilities, people with autism, and families facing homelessness. We will also be able to continue supporting the treatment and public health and safety resources our communities need in the face of the heroin epidemic.

"The bipartisan measure we passed today is a significant improvement over a version passed with only Republican votes in April -- a plan that would have done considerable damage to counties, schools, communities and working families. But there’s still important work to do. We still must deliver a bipartisan, responsible plan to pay for the spending we approved today.

"House Democrats will continue offering our ideas in the coming days to close the budget gap with new and recurring revenue. Taxpayers expect the state to pay its bills and reduce our deficit. Today's approval of a spending plan is an important piece of the puzzle. We are proud of the bipartisan work that produced it and the things it will allow us to achieve. We're committed to continuing that bipartisan work until the job is done."