Longietti votes for budget, citing sensible investments, funding to ‘level up’ underfunded school districts

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Mark Longietti voted to support Pennsylvania’s new budget plan, which passed the House and Senate this evening.

Longietti, D-Mercer, said he believes the $40 billion plan strikes a good balance between funding existing programs and services, reserving “rainy day” funding for future emergencies, and investing to bolster educational resources for school districts where those resources have been lacking.

“I’m encouraged that the plan we passed holds the line on taxes while also increasing basic education funding by $300 million,” said Longietti, who is Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee. “That increase includes $100 million to level the playing field for grossly underfunded schools, including those in the Farrell Area, Greenville Area, and Sharon City school districts.

“It’s critical to ensure that students from lower-income communities receive the same opportunities to compete for good, family-sustaining jobs as those in wealthier districts. I believe the budget we passed today brings us one step closer to that.”

Longietti said other education increases include $50 million for special education; $30 million for early childhood education, and $11 million for early intervention for 3- to 5-year-olds.

“Additional support to give kids the right start in life makes a huge difference in determining future success, and I am pleased that the budget includes increases to benefit our youngest and most vulnerable students,” Longietti said. “I also support the commitment of more than $700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to ensure that parents have access to safe, reliable childcare, and another $3 million to the State Food Purchase Program to ensure families do not face food insecurity.

“Finally, this year’s budget will commit more than $2.3 billion to the state’s Rainy Day Fund to see how we fare in recovery and to avoid future fiscal issues and tax increases. It’s not a perfect budget – no plan is – but I believe it invests sensibly in a way that keeps us secure while also moving us forward.

“While I am disappointed that the budget bills failed to make a significant investment in expanding broadband to our rural communities, I am hopeful that there will be an opportunity in the near future to allocate American Rescue Plan funds, currently held by the state, for this priority. I will continue to be a strong voice in the legislature fighting for a state investment in high-speed internet service that can transform the economy and quality of life in our community.”