Responsible budget with historic education investments earns O’Mara’s yes vote

HARRISBURG, July 8 – State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, said she supports this year’s state spending plan, particularly noting increased education funding with mental health and safety grants, funding for the Delaware County Health Department and environmental preservation initiatives.

“This budget bill makes historic investments in education, sensibly uses federal American Rescue Plan dollars and directly benefits the people of Delco, so I voted in favor of it,” O’Mara said.

Funding has also been earmarked for mental health and school safety initiatives. Each school district gets $100,000, plus $15 per student, in the forms of both a physical safety grant and a mental health grant, totaling $200,000 in student health and safety funding per district.

Under this spending plan, Delaware County will receive 15.4% more education funding than last year; simultaneously, property tax rent rebates under the state’s PTRR Program will be increased. Recipients will receive an additional one-time check that is equal to 70% of what they receive in this year’s rebate.

“We were able to increase Property Tax/Rent Rebates thanks to money Pennsylvania had received from the American Rescue Plan. While I would have liked to help more seniors living on fixed incomes get money back, I’m glad we were able to give them something extra,” O’Mara said.

Additionally, $1 million will go to the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative. O’Mara authored H.B. 1363 with state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., more than a year ago to establish this program.

“I’m extremely proud to see the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative incorporated into this year’s spending plan. I’ve heard from students all over Pennsylvania struggling to feed themselves, especially in this economy with extreme inflation, and I’m happy that we can make our state government work for students in need.”

O’Mara added that the budget includes millions of dollars for the Delaware County Health Department.

“Until this year, Delaware County was the largest county in the entire nation without its own health department. The COVID-19 pandemic really exacerbated this issue and brought it to light, as Delco was one of the counties most impacted by coronavirus and we had such high transmission rates for so long,” O’Mara said. “This budget recognized this problem and allotted up to $3.1 million in reimbursements to ensure our local health department continues to be a success.”

O’Mara said another positive highlight in the state spending plan was that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection received a $7 million increase. Plus, $640 million in American Rescue Plan dollars will go to the Clean Streams Fund, State Parks & Outdoor Recreation Program, and Water and Sewer Projects.

“Overall, this spending plan is a step in the right direction toward fairly funding our schools, helping vulnerable populations, and it puts money that we received from the federal government to use, because otherwise we would eventually have to return what doesn’t get accounted for. There are many positives in this budget and I’m a proud yes vote.”