Longietti supports proposed budget investments in education, workforce, vulnerable populations

HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 - State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, released the following statement today in reaction to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2020-21 budget address:

“I’m encouraged by aspects of the budget plan Governor Tom Wolf unveiled today.

“First, I am pleased that the proposal does not include any tax increases.

“I’m also encouraged that the proposed budget includes increases in education for our children: a $100 million increase for K-12; a $25 million increase for special education; a $25 million increase for Pre-K Counts; and a $5 million increase for Head Start Supplemental.

“The proposed budget would also commit resources to make higher education more affordable, with a $60 million increase in state grant funding through PHEAA to help students pay for college and post-secondary vocational education.

“I am intrigued by the proposed $12 million competitive state grant program to address barriers to work such as transportation obstacles and childcare accessibility, and it is my hope that we will see a grant application from Mercer County.

“I am encouraged by proposals to invest in innovation and entrepreneurship. One such proposal would invest $2.35 million in Invent Penn State, which previously helped the Mercer County-based nonprofit The Guardian Nest address the needs of veterans. Another proposal would invest an additional $5 million in Ben Franklin Technology Partners, which recently awarded a grant to a new Mercer County based company, Baby Arrival Monitor. 

“Also promising is a proposal to add $2 million to WEDnetPA, which has assisted a number of our local companies in addressing job-training needs.

“Finally, I am encouraged that the proposed budget would help address the needs of our most vulnerable populations by providing an $8.1 million increase for in-home services for the elderly and people with disabilities – helping to remove 1,700 from the waiting list – and an increase in funding to remove 732 people with intellectual disabilities and autism from the emergency wait list. 

“Of course, these proposals are just a starting point for negotiations, and I’ll be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle during the months ahead to arrive at a final state budget. As I do so, the health and well-being of Mercer County’s families will be foremost in my mind.”