HARRISBURG – The Senate approved two major bipartisan budget implementation bills on Wednesday, taking significant steps to finalize the 2023-24 state budget, according to Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-24).
A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed into law by the governor.
“It’s good to finally get the budget done, and to do so in a way that respects the people who sent us here – the taxpayers,” Pennycuick said. “These final budget bills were passed in a bipartisan manner, which demonstrates cooperation is possible without sacrificing our values.”
The major provisions of House Bill 1300 (Fiscal Code amendments) and House Bill 301 (School Code amendments) address the final pieces of the 2023-24 budget. The bills make major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieve many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.
House Bill 1300, which was approved by a bipartisan 45-5 vote, includes several important and time-sensitive priorities, including:
- Reauthorization of funding for county 911 systems, as well as a fee increase from $1.65 to $1.95 to meet the expanding cost of services to counties.
- An expansion of the Pennsylvania Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit Program, giving Pennsylvania parents the additional support they need to continue to seek and maintain employment.
- The creation of a joint local-state firearm task force in Allegheny County to get guns out of the hands of criminals.
- Funding for an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer.
- A state personal income tax exemption for contributions to Dependent Care Assistance and Flexible Saving Accounts, which are used to cover employment-related expenses.
- Allocation of $25 million in funding for costs related to the avian flu outbreak, in addition to $2 million for avian flu rapid response teams and $6 million to the PA Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System.
- Funding to ensure nursing homes that have high percentages of Medical Assistance residents receive incentive payments from the first day of residency.
- A $65 million transfer to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund to help maintain current staffing and services offered to Unemployment Compensation claimants.
- Creation of a new Public School Facility Improvement Grant Program under the Commonwealth Financing Authority to support critical school infrastructure and facility improvements.
- An additional $20 million for county mental health programs
“Passage of this critical measure finally closed out the budget process,” Pennycuick said. “It is fiscally responsible and provides key investments in the services that Pennsylvanians rely on most, especially emergency 911 systems, state police and mental health programs.”
House Bill 301, which was approved by a bipartisan 43-7 vote, includes many provisions to expand education empowerment and access, including:
- An additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students through the existing Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs.
- $295 million for Ready-to-Learn Block Grants.
- Provisions to consolidate and streamline school safety and security programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
- $100 million for K-12 mental health programs for schools.
- More than $261 million for community colleges.
- More than $76 million in Special Education funding for Intermediate Units.
- $10 million to create a new Educator Pipeline Support Grant Program to provide grants to student teachers.
- $46.5 million in reimbursements to school entities that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
- More than $70 million in state aid to public libraries.
- $12 million in funding for career and technical schools.
- $7 million to assist distressed schools.
“Passage of this legislation provides key support to public schools while empowering and providing hope to more parents of students in underperforming schools by increasing funding for EITC,” Pennycuick said. “Additionally, funding for libraries and community colleges will now be disbursed so that these critically important institutions, like Montgomery County Community College and Reading Area Community College, can continue to serve our area.”
Both bills were also approved by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the governor.
CONTACT: Matt Szuchyt (215) 541-2388