Kinsey: Spending plan passed by the legislature protects services for residents

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., said he is pleased with the bipartisan spending plan passed today by the legislature.

“Today we are taking positive steps toward the financial health of our commonwealth. Our $32 billion spending plan reflects investments in public education and supports our senior citizens, and human services,” Kinsey said. “This bill appropriates necessary money needed to support educators in our communities, human services and health programs, and contributions to our pension system.”

Within a year, this funding will provide an additional $100 million for basic education, a $25 million increase for special education, and another $30 million for Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs. Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities will see an $8.9 million increase, while funding will continue for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

“For Philadelphia, this boost in education means an extra $34 million for basic and special education. If we invest that money wisely to capitalize on our children’s capacities and maximize the support and learning opportunities, then we really stand a good chance of setting our communities on a trajectory of success,” Kinsey said.

Kinsey, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he is glad lawmakers were able to reach bipartisan support to fund important human services initiatives and maintain existing programs.

“This bill will help reduce the child care waiting list and the adults with intellectual disabilities waiting list, expand services for people with autism and increase homeless assistance,” Kinsey said. “It really makes great progress in increasing the number of people we help. Given the current fiscal situation, we need to ensure we meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us.”

The legislation contemplates the merger of the Department of Human Services and Health, while the departments of Aging, and Drug and Alcohol stay as they are.

“Having a Department of Aging is critical for our commonwealth. Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of elderly residents in the United States with nearly 2 million residents over the age of 65. Given these statistics, we need to make sure we provide them the highest level of care.”

Kinsey said this spending bill is a significant improvement over the version introduced and passed by House Republicans earlier this spring. According to Kinsey, that plan would have done considerable damage to schools, communities and working families.

“It's time to put the people first and fight for a Pennsylvania that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. Let’s continue to work together and fight for the needs of Pennsylvanians,” Kinsey said.