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Governor Wolf’s Budget Goal: Create ‘Strongest Workforce in the Nation’
HARRISBURG, Pa. – With the Commonwealth on a comeback, Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday outlined in his 2019-20 budget address a bold plan to move the Commonwealth forward by building the strongest workforce in the nation that drives the strongest economy.
The governor outlined his budget during a joint session of the House and Senate in Harrisburg.
The proposed budget, at $34 billion, is 2.8 percent higher than the current year and does not call for any increases in the state income or sales taxes. It seeks to invest more in workforce development, add more to basic education funding, lower the Corporate Net Income Tax, and help with small agriculture producers.
“Today, I present a comprehensive plan to help grow our economy by continuing to invest in our workforce,” said Governor Wolf.
“This plan calls on contributions from the business community, labor unions, educators, research institutions, students, parents, and adult workers.”
A core component of the governor’s plan is the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, which brings together agency heads and public and private sector experts in an approach to finding solutions that connect skilled workers with good jobs that employers need today and in the future.
The governor’s budget expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and partners with the private sector to build on the PAsmart initiative, launched last year as a groundbreaking approach to workforce development.
Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center
Soon the governor will sign an executive order creating the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. The departments of Community and Economic Development, Labor & Industry, State and others will partner with external leaders to find solutions that will strengthen our workforce.
Early Childhood Development and Parent Support
The proposal provides $5 million to expand home-visiting programs for pregnant women and at-risk infants and toddlers, $15 million in federal funds to reduce waiting lists for high-quality childcare, and $5 million for wrap-around services so parents can attend college or other training to get skills for family-sustaining jobs.
Continuing Investments in Education and Career Training
The budget provides increases of $200 million for basic education, $50 million for pre-k and Head Start, $50 million for special education, $7 million for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and $8 million in one-time grants for community college students or graduates who are working in Pennsylvania.
PAsmart connects Pennsylvanians with education and training opportunities, apprenticeships, and STEM careers and the governor’s budget expands this initiative with an additional $4 million to help Pennsylvania manufacturers train workers and $6 million to expand career and technical education for adults.
To prevent students from falling behind, the governor’s plan lowers the age when students must start attending school from 8 to 6 and increases the dropout age from 17 to 18. The administration will also study the benefits of providing free full-day kindergarten to all children starting at age 5.
Pennsylvanians can find out more about Governor Wolf’s budget at budget.pa.gov.
Oberlander Reacts to Governor’s Budget Proposal
On Tuesday, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) said she is pleased that the governor’s budget proposal reflects the priorities of the people of 63rd District and rural Pennsylvania and is optimistic that a balanced state budget, which is responsive to the needs of local residents, can be passed without a tax increase and on time.
“I’m glad to see that the governor is proposing a number of investments in areas important to us, namely workforce development, education and agriculture,” said Oberlander. “We all know that good schools and good jobs are key factors in strong families and strong communities. We recognize that we must reduce barriers to job creators to allow our economy to prosper. We want to provide avenues for our residents to achieve higher-paying jobs. Businesses do best when we give them flexibility, and that continues to be our goal.”
Oberlander noted that while the governor’s speech was mostly well received, details of the spending plan are still being reviewed. She intends to look more closely at a local fee for state police coverage and other initiatives recently announced by the administration.
“The governor set a positive tone today – one that most of us certainly agree with – because we all have the same goal,” Oberlander added. “We want our families, our communities and our Commonwealth to succeed.”
Public hearings by the House Appropriations Committee on the 2019-20 spending plan begin on Monday, February 11.
For more information, visit www.PABudget.com.
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