Longietti: General Fund bill passes House, provides increase in funding for early childhood education

HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, issued the following statement on his support of the 2018-19 General Fund bill, which passed the House today:

“I am pleased to have voted for a budget bill that holds the line on taxes, while making strategic investments in education, career training and services to our most vulnerable citizens. This bipartisan spending bill demonstrates that, working together, we can address our citizens’ most pressing needs, while being mindful of the financial pressures faced by taxpayers.”

Longietti pointed to critical investments in education programs for children and training programs for those seeking jobs.

“As co-chairman of the House/Senate Early Childhood Education Caucus, I am pleased that the budget includes $25 million in additional funding for early childhood education programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start. These investments will open the doors to high-quality early learning for thousands of children across the commonwealth, including many right here in Mercer County.”

In addition to a 1.7 percent increase in Basic Education Funding for schools, Longietti also highlighted an investment of $30 million in additional funding for career and technical education.

“In Mercer County, there are family-sustaining jobs available in trades and advanced manufacturing, but there is a need for qualified workers. The investment in career and technical education will help students prepare for these careers through programs offered at the Mercer County Career Center and area post-secondary institutions. Also, for those seeking a college education, the budget helps keep tuition rates down through a 3 percent increase for state universities and community colleges and a 3.3 percent increase in funding for such state-related universities as Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.”

In addition to education, Longietti highlighted budgetary support for safety net programs assisting Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens.

“The budget will allow another 5,230 senior citizens to remain in their homes through home and community-based services, will transition nearly 1,000 more citizens with intellectual disabilities from the waiting list to services, and will provide 1,600 more children access to high-quality childcare while their parents work.”

Finally, Longietti noted a 69 percent increase in funding for home-visiting programs like Family Centers and the Nurse-Family Partnership.

“For years, Mercer County families have benefited from our network of Family Centers which foster strong social and educational growth within families. Now, expectant and new mothers in Mercer County will also have access to a certified nurse, visiting in their homes, to help improve birth outcomes and child development. Additionally, these home visiting programs will reach almost 800 families experiencing opioid addictions so that children and families can transition from addiction to recovery.”

Longietti said this bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration, while the House will consider a number of additional budget-related bills to complete the budget process.