Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf Signs Budget to Sustain Education, Support Communities Amid Pandemic
(STL.News) – As Pennsylvania continues to address public health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tom Wolf today signed a state budget that will provide 12 months of sustained public education funding at 2019-20 levels and makes important investments in communities and programs to help begin to restore the economy.
“Education must remain a priority even during a pandemic and this budget provides schools with the stability to continue building on the progress we have made to prepare our children for a successful future,” said Gov. Wolf. “Reaching an early budget agreement under these challenging circumstances is encouraging as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“While this is an encouraging step in the right direction, more needs to be done to ensure Pennsylvania has the resources it needs to protect key programs and investments.”
The $25.75 billion General Fund budget in HB 2387 includes an additional $2.6 billion in federal funding provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act. The budget sustains funding at current year levels for Pre-K Counts and Head Start, basic and special education in K-12 schools, and higher education. The budget also provides $300 million from the CARES Act to make up for a decline in gaming revenue that annually supports school property tax relief for homeowners.
To help communities to recover, the budget provides $420 million to assist nursing homes with COVID-19-related costs, $50 million to help Pennsylvanians with food insecurity and $225 million for grants to small businesses through the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The budget also provides $625 million to counties through block grants to help address the disruption to their budgets from the pandemic. The funding will assist counties with the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment, help local governments, and provide grants to small businesses, among other options.
“As the state’s economy begins to reopen from the public health emergency, there are still unanswered questions about the state’s finances, but this agreement is an important step to stabilize our schools and put Pennsylvania on a path to recovery,” said Gov. Wolf.
The governor also signed HB 1083, HB 2441, HB 2442, HB 2443, HB 2444, HB 2445, HB 2467, HB 2468, HB 2469, HB 2470, HB 2471, HB 2472, HB 2473, HB 2474, HB 2475, HB 2510, SB 166, SB 1108 and SB 1122. The governor vetoed SB 1027 and HCRRR