Merski and Harkins cast ‘yes’ votes for budget

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski both cast “yes” votes for the budget bill today, saying they believed that, although not perfect, the bill (H.B. 790) would make sound investments in the commonwealth’s future.

“Although the budget is not everything I wanted, I believe it would invest our resources wisely and would not increase the burden on taxpayers,” Harkins said. “I’m especially encouraged about the substantial increases for public education and pre-K resources – including increased funding for my school districts – and additional funding for nursing homes and home health care operations.

“Finally, I’m pleased the new budget would make a sizeable increase to the Rainy Day Fund. Having served in lean years, I understand how important that will be for the commonwealth moving forward and how it will help with our bond rating over the long term.”

Merski was likewise pleased about the budget’s emphasis on education and protecting the state’s vulnerable populations, though he has some concerns.

“This budget would increase funding for every school district I represent,” Merski said. “It also would increase investments in Pre-K Counts to give our kids the best possible start, and in nursing facilities to help protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens. Best of all, it would do all of this without raising taxes.

“Of course, the budget is not perfect and represents a compromise. I’m deeply concerned by the cuts to general assistance and environment protection. Also, moving forward, we need to address minimum wage and work to restore cuts to the most vulnerable. I will continue to work to lift those who need a hand up to create a Pennsylvania that works for all.”