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For the first time in a long time, Pennsylvania has an on-time budget. Well in advance of the June 30 deadline, lawmakers and the Wolf administration announced that they’d reached agreement on a $32.7 billion budget for the 2018-19 Fiscal Year, which is $560 million more than the current year’s spend total (a 2 percent increase).
House Bill 2121 – which passed the House in a 188-10 vote last Wednesday and the Senate in a 47-2 vote on Friday and was signed by the governor as Act 1A of 2018 – is heavy on education funding, providing an additional $100 million for basic education, $20 million more for pre-K Counts, $5 million more for Head Start, $15 million more for special education, $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program and a $30 million increase for the career and technical education appropriation in the Department of Education. The budget will also increase funding to the State System of Higher Education and state related universities by 3 percent. Another $70 million is dedicated toward school safety ($10 million of which will be allocated to an existing safe schools initiative), which became a priority for lawmakers this year following the mass school shootings in Florida and Texas. There is also more funding to help people with intellectual disabilities receive services and funding to help combat the state’s opioid crisis by granting 800 more families access to evidence-based home visit services.
The Fiscal, Human Services and Public School Codes that accompany the budget were also passed by the legislature late Friday. These bills, along with the General Appropriations bill, were signed into law by the governor on Friday. The governor said of the collection of bills in a statement: “This year’s bipartisan budget continues to increase opportunities for all Pennsylvanians and shows the results of our hard work to get our finances under control.”