Legislature Passes 2021-22 State Budget of $40.8B

HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania’s $40.8 billion 2021-2022 state budget, which “dumps billions in federal coronavirus money into savings, boosts spending on education, and provides aid to nursing homes,” was easily approved Friday (June 25, 2021) by the Legislature, The Associated Press reported. Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said he plans to sign it next week.

It contains no tax or fee increases.

“Supporters described it as a sensible approach that targets spending increases while setting aside a large contingency reserve for when federal stimulus ends in the coming years,” The AP stated. Democratic opponents, however, “decried what they saw as a missed opportunity to make significant economic and educational progress,” it added.

The budget:

  • Puts about $5 billion in federal coronavirus relief money into savings. Of that amount, about half was added to the state’s rainy day fund. Much of the rest of the pandemic money was also unspent; legislators called it a way to prevent future tax increases;
  • Boosts K-12 education state support by $300 million;
  • Pumps $279 million into transportation infrastructure;
  • Directs $280 million to nursing homes and similar facilities, both drawing from the federal pandemic money.

Depending on their interests, specific budget items won prompt applause or criticism from local legislators:

Pennsylvania’s Level Up Coalition, which supports additional education funding for the state’s 100 poorest school districts, noted “lawmakers agreed to target a $100 million equity supplement to the state’s 100 lowest wealth school districts,” which includes the Pottstown School District. The group called it “a bright spot in this year’s underwhelming budget agreement.”

State Sen. Katie Muth, whose 44th District includes Lower Pottsgrove, Limerick, and Upper Providence townships, told The AP constituents will be unhappy “when they find out that this money could have been pushed out in a historic, epic way, to invest in the people of Pennsylvania and it wasn’t.”

“The budget may not be perfect,” 147th District Rep. Tracy Pennycuick, acknowledged, but added “I was a ‘yes’ vote because it addresses our core government needs, while still saving for the future. It specifically provides additional funding for the primary sectors of public safety, education and assistance for our most vulnerable.” She represents Lower Frederick, and Upper and Lower Salford townships, and Schwenksville borough.

131st District Rep. Milou Mackenzie, who in part represents Upper Hanover Township and East Greenville and Pennsburg boroughs, claimed she was pleased by more than “$13 billion for pre-K to 12 education, which is a record high.”

Pennsylvania’s Legislative Black Caucus found satisfaction in “the $30 million included in the state budget (for) community violence prevention, including fighting gun violence.”

Photo from the office of Gov. Tom Wolf, via Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons license