Tai casts state budget vote

On-time budget invests in education, workforce development, infrastructure and opioid crisis

HARRISBURG, June 20 – Continuing investments in education, workforce development, roads and bridges, and fighting the opioid abuse epidemic today won a 'yes' vote from state Rep. Helen Tai, D-Bucks, when House lawmakers considered and passed the 2018-19 General Fund budget.

“As with any compromise, there are pluses and minuses to the budget I considered on behalf of the people I represent,” Tai said. “Overall, the budget makes good on my commitment to building an economy that works for everyone, where the path to opportunity is clear and accessible. The budget makes continuing investments in basic, higher, and career and technical education, as well workforce development and job creation. It ensures the funding we need to continue to fix our roads and bridges and it recognizes that Pennsylvania, like many other states, is in the fight of its life to combat the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic plaguing our nation.”

According to Tai, the 2018-19 General Fund budget represents a $718.9 million, or 2.2 percent, increase over last year. In addition to a $165 million increase for pre-k through 12 education, an additional $60 million will be available for school and community safety initiatives. Another $40 million will go toward Gov. Tom Wolf’s computer science, STEM and workforce initiative, also known as PA Smart. Pennsylvania state-system universities will see a 3.3 percent increase while community colleges and Pennsylvania’s state-related colleges will receive a 3 percent increase.

“I am pleased to see that schools at all levels will get the resources they need to educate children and train adults alike,” Tai said. “Education is the backbone of our economy, something we should continue to invest in and cultivate.”

On June 5, the day she took the oath of office to represent the 178th District, Tai introduced legislation (H.B. 2469) that would withhold legislator’s pay if the state’s budget is not passed each year by June 30.

“Prior to taking office I witnessed far too many late budgets coming out of Harrisburg,” Tai said. “Legislators have the fiduciary duty to pass a responsible, on-time budget on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. It’s one of the most important parts of the job. I was delighted to see legislative leaders work in cooperation with Governor Wolf and to see my colleagues take this responsibility seriously so that we could deliver a budget for Pennsylvanians that is both sensible and on time.”

The budget bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, where it is expected to pass. Companion bills to complete initiatives laid out in the spending plan also are expected to pass.