PA-BGT: House Appropriations Cmte. Approves $31.55 Billion Plan
Senate Bill 1073 will now be considered on the floor of the House after the committee’s 36-1 vote.
Under the omnibus amendment that was unanimously approved moments before – Rep. Jim Christiana voted for the amendment but not the bill – legislators are giving Gov. Tom Wolf a 4.8% spending increase from the 2015-16 budget, Charles Thompson of PennLive reports.
Wolf will get $200 million in new finding for basic education and $50 million for early childhood and special education for the 2016-17 fiscal year if the plan makes it through the entire process.
The bill contains no funding increases for state-owned and state-related universities or community colleges.
The plan calls for $10 million in spending on Wolf’s initiatives for the heroin and opioid crisis in PA, while allotting an additional $5 million for existing drug and alcohol programs.
Additional revenue for the increased spending is expected to come from several new sources. Lawmakers are eying almost $500 million from new taxes on tobacco products and more than $300 from online gambling and airport slot machines, while House budget negotiators expect $150 million in new revenue from liquor reform laws enacted at the beginning of the month.
Both committee Chairmen Bill Adolph and Joe Markosek hailed the deal as an example of what Harrisburg can do when lawmakers work together and urged their committee members to back the surprisingly civil compromise.
The framework for the 2016-17 budget is now laid, though it will be subject to some tweaking over the next few days as it works through the House and Senate. Though the Governor has not yet said he would sign the bill, his spokesman seemed to back the vote on Monday night.
“As Governor Wolf has said, he is focused on a final budget that is balanced with sustainable revenue, invests in education and provides funding to combat the heroin crisis,” Wolf’s Press Secretary Jeff Sheridan told PennLive. “The Governor looks forward to continuing to work with the legislature, and as the budget moves through the process, he is hopeful all sides can reach an agreement that achieves these goals.”