Schlossberg supports budget with millions more for education, mental health

HARRISBURG, July 7 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg said he voted today for the 2022-23 state budget, which passed the House of Representatives 180-20, because of its significant increases for school funding and mental health services.

The $42 billion plan includes a basic education funding increase of almost $750 million ($525 million through the Fair Funding Formula and $225 million for Level Up funding to the state’s poorest school districts). It also includes a special education funding increase of almost $100 million.

“This is a massive win for Pennsylvania’s students and by all measures is a historic moment in Pennsylvania’s constitutional obligation for public schools,” Schlossberg said. “A strong future in Pennsylvania starts with strong community schools providing a world-class education regardless of Zip code. Every job, every career, every passion starts with a firm educational foundation.

“Since taking office, I have made bolstering Pennsylvania’s commitment to students and families the focal point. That effort is paying off. It has taken teamwork. Senator Pat Browne and Representative Pete Schweyer have been fierce advocates and colleagues in the mission to provide more resources to the Allentown School District. It is a pleasure to work with them to give the district the resources to serve Allentown’s students and families.

“Also, if we are ever going to rid homeowners of rising property tax burdens, Pennsylvania is going to need to fully fund education. The combination of these increases, plus the expansion of the Property Tax Rent Rebate Program included in this budget, will certainly help homeowners.”

The budget includes $16 million total for the Parkland School District, an increase of $2.49 million or 23% more than last year and a 66% increase since Schlossberg took office in 2013. The Allentown School District is expected to receive $187.3 million, an increase of $37.7 million or 26% more than last year and a 95% increase since 2013.

Schlossberg said the new budget also represents a win for mental health care as counties will see a $15 million increase for mental health services after previous Gov. Tom Corbett slashed mental health funding 10 years ago.

“We still have work to do on how the money will be doled out to the counties, but the commitment of $100 million shows how serious we are about addressing the state’s mental health crisis,” he said.

“Last month, I unveiled a plan to improve mental health care in Pennsylvania called ‘HOPE for PA.’ That effort resulted in $100 million being allocated to improve mental health services in Pennsylvania by creating a blue-ribbon panel which will direct the allocation of those resources. The panel represents an excellent cross-section of people with lived experiences, experts in the field and others who understand the impact mental illness has on people. It gives us a chance to hear from experts and make a better plan. Simply said, I am ecstatic. I have been fighting for more mental health investment for years, and this is it.”

Schlossberg said other positive items in the spending plan include a $140 million increase to the popular Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program and more for ambulances, long-term living and nursing facilities, child care, clean streams, state parks, outdoor recreation, and water sewer projects. The new budget also would establish a child and dependent care tax credit for people who are caring for a loved one.

“In a budget process, nothing is perfect. This budget, however, reflects my top two priorities: ensuring world-class education for every student regardless of Zip code and a commitment to giving Pennsylvanians hope by fixing our broken mental health care system,” Schlossberg said.