Philadelphia House Delegation pleased with increased funding on budget priorities

HARRISBURG, July 7 – As we close out this week with the passage of the 2023-24 state budget, the Philadelphia House Delegation today expressed that the spending plan is far from ideal, but still delivers major support to disadvantaged families in Pennsylvania. 

Delegation Chair Morgan Cephas explained that the delegation is pleased to see the inclusion of some of their top priorities for Philadelphia.

“We certainly praise the nearly $1.7 billion (7.6% increase) for the School District of Philadelphia,” Cephas said. 

“We also voted to support $7.5 million to fund indigent defense for the first time in Pennsylvania history, ensuring public defenders have the resources they need to provide legal representation to defendants who cannot pay for it on their own, among other wins. We are moving the state in the right direction,” she added. 

State Rep. Danilo Burgos, vice-chair of the delegation, pointed out that the budget showcases the commitment of the House Democratic majority with Pennsylvanians, while managing to evade the unnecessary impasses of a bipartisan legislature.

“Not a perfect budget; we wished it could have gone further in some areas and programs, but I am proud to say that we didn’t bargain our principles and that we prioritized our school system,” Burgos said.

“I am appreciative of the investments in apprenticeships and school-to-work programs, the expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program and the $2 million allocation for the Fresh Food Financing Initiative that will transform to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods.”     

Rep. Joseph C. Hohenstein, delegation secretary, believes there is more work to be done beyond education.

“Let us not forget justice for survivors of sexual abuse, a minimum wage increase, commonsense gun safety measures, and the Fairness Act to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination,” Hohenstein said.

“While we celebrate the victory for education funding, let us remember that there is much more work to do to bring true equity and deliver on our promise of a high-quality education for every student. We must invest in our crumbling infrastructure, improve access to affordable health care, and champion renewable energy to protect our environment and generations to come,” he said.  

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, delegation treasurer, said that the budget invests funds in crucial areas that will help Philadelphia progress, but the legislature must continue that work.

“While this budget takes positive steps, much more remains to be done to improve the quality of life for Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth. I look forward to continuing the work with my colleagues to ensure we get there.”