Frankel: State budget passed with missed opportunities to invest vital relief funds in our communities

Funding physical, human infrastructure should have been main priority

HARRISBURG, June 28 – Following Friday’s passage of the Pennsylvania state budget, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, issued the following statement:

“This year’s budget presented a rare opportunity to invest nearly $10 billion in additional state and federal funds. Instead of putting that surplus to use in our communities, the majority party sent a bulk of it to sit in state coffers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the issues facing working people across our Commonwealth -- particularly women, people of color and low-income households. They deserve a state government that uplifts their voices and invests in their needs. From high-quality childhood education and support for local businesses to infrastructure improvements, there were no shortage of ways we could have delivered real help, relief and change to the people of Pennsylvania

“We don’t know when the next public health challenge is coming, or what it will look like. However, it is clear our public health infrastructure and our reliance on the often unpaid or underpaid work of our care economy was not designed for this moment, or any other potential crisis. Funding our physical and human infrastructure should have been the main priority.

“While this budget severely lacks important appropriations for our communities, industries and families impacted by COVID-19, some small but significant victories can be found. $350 million has been allocated for important education aspects, specifically on learning loss, summer enrichment and afterschool programs to help children whose educations were disrupted by COVID-19. Additionally, $100 million has been appropriated to the state’s 100 poorest school districts. While it’s not nearly as much as we hoped for, something is better than nothing in this sense.

“Equally as important, this budget appropriates $30 million toward preventing gun violence. It’s no secret that gun violence has reached a crisis level across our entire commonwealth. Again, while this allocation is a step in the right direction, it’s exactly that -- just a step. We have a long way to go toward addressing the senseless acts of gun violence in our communities.

“In the end, I voted no on this budget bill. There were simply too many opportunities to allocate $10 billion to our residents left on the table. I saw this budget as the General Assembly turning their backs on the first responders, frontline workers, students and families of our great commonwealth. We need to do better. Once the governor signs the bill and the money goes into our ‘Rainy Day fund,’ we must work to deliver that money to the people that deserve it most -- our residents.”