Schweyer supports 2017-18 state spending plan

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, issued the following statement regarding his vote for the $32 billion 2017-18 state spending plan that passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the governor’s desk.

“I’m particularly pleased to see $100 million added for basic education and $25 million more for special education as originally requested by the governor. That means an additional $2.8 million in basic education and $434,427 in special education for the Allentown School District. It also includes a $30 million increase for Pre-K Counts and Head Start, which are important early childhood education initiatives with proven success.

“Given the opioid and heroin addiction crisis that is devastating communities across the commonwealth, including here in the Lehigh Valley, it’s good to see the restoration of funding for drug and alcohol treatment services, including the prioritization of treatment over incarceration. Budget dollars can’t bring back a lost loved one, but hopefully by putting treatment dollars in the right places, we can help others avoid the same situation in the future, while curtailing an escalation of this crisis.

“Maintaining funding for programs that help those with intellectual disabilities is a huge win for people who struggle to take care of their family members. Given the current fiscal situation, this shows a true commitment to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

“Much of the job creation and economic development money has been restored from the earlier House Republican version of the budget, such as the Keystone Communities program which has been very important in the revitalization of downtown Allentown. Additional tourism dollars also mean good news for Allentown and the Lehigh Valley.

"Having voted for Act 5 which reformed Pennsylvania's public pensions for future employees, it is imperative that we continue to fund our pension systems for current retirees and employees. This bill makes our full pension payment, although I do believe we should have allocated more dollars toward the unfunded liability. This huge debt needs to be addressed with real dollars now and in the future and I remain committed to achieving this goal.

“While I am able to vote for this decent spending plan which restores many of the crucial line items that were cut by House Republicans in April, I have real concerns about how it will be paid for and I’m awaiting those details that hopefully will be hammered out next week,” Schweyer said.

Unrelated to the budget, Schweyer said he has been told that the issue surrounding the Allentown Unemployment Compensation Call Center will be addressed when the legislature returns in September.