Harkins supports budget’s strong investment in education, working families

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today:

“None of us could have imagined the widespread havoc COVID would wreak or the toll it would take, especially on our small business community. A major priority in the year ahead will be ensuring additional federal COVID relief funding makes it into the hands of our local businesses – and specifically the restaurants, taverns and bars and social clubs that are hanging on by a string – as quickly as possible.

“In addition to the anticipated federal funding, I support the governor’s plan to distribute $145 million in state funding to help our small businesses survive.


“Beyond helping our business community recover, education funding on all levels is a major priority, and I support the governor's proposal to increase the amount of basic education funding that is distributed through the fair funding formula.  

“Household income should never determine a child’s future, and the way to level the playing field is by ensuring that high quality public education is equally available to all kids and does not depend on a family’s ZIP code. I was encouraged by the governor’s proposal that would significantly increase funding for the Erie City School District, both in terms of basic education and special education programs.

“I was also encouraged to hear about proposed investments for start-up and capital costs for the new Erie County Community College, which promises to broaden affordable education choices and stimulate jobs in our region.

“I strongly support the governor’s proposal to raise the minimum wage. For years, working families have been struggling because they are not being paid a living wage. It’s time to change that and start paying workers what they deserve so they can provide for their families and invest back into the local economy. I also support the proposed budget’s increased investments in public health, including more funding to local and county health departments to help them combat the ongoing pandemic. 

“Finally, I was encouraged to hear the governor discuss proposed investments in infrastructure. After the immediate priority of recovery from the pandemic, I hope to see more funding – including federal funding – for the kinds of infrastructure projects that put people back to work and infuse money into communities like ours. For years, those big projects have been put on the back burner, but we owe it to future generations to invest in these projects and create those opportunities just as our parents and grandparents did.”