Malagari: Small victories do not compensate for missed opportunities in this budget

HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery, released the following statement regarding the passage of Pennsylvania’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1:

“This year’s budget had a number of small victories, such as providing funding for emergency rental assistance for Pennsylvanians still struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as fully funding our state police and Department of Environmental Protection. However, where there are just a handful of small victories, there are several missed opportunities.

“Pennsylvania recently dropped to 47th in the nation for education funding, and we see stark inequities throughout our public education system. This budget does increase our education funding by $300 million, with $100 million going to our commonwealth’s most underfunded districts, but this is only a 4.8% gain. We can do better to fairly fund education in Pennsylvania and fix the disparities harming students in underfunded schools, but this is a small step in the right direction.

“While I believe education funding could have been a higher priority, I am proud to share that I helped bring home $2.45 million for North Penn and Souderton Area school districts. By working together with other Montgomery County legislators, including those across the aisle, we were able to secure this funding to address the needs and concerns that school administrators have voiced to us.

“It is unsettling, though, that we had the once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest $7 billion from the American Rescue Plan into education, infrastructure improvements and small business assistance – just to name a few areas. Instead, the vast majority of this surplus went into the state’s General Fund and Rainy Day Fund. For many people, organizations and small businesses in Pennsylvania, it is raining right now and they could have really benefitted from this financial relief.

“Overall, this budget takes steps in the right direction, but it misses the mark. This is why I ultimately decided to vote against it. We had the funds available to address major issues in our commonwealth from toxic schools to crumbling infrastructure that this spending plan neglected. Despite failing to use federal dollars to provide relief to those in need, I will advocate that they be returned to taxpayers in the form of smart, forward-thinking investments.”

For more information, call Malagari’s office at (267) 768-3671.