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Final Pennsylvania Budget Leaves Much Room for Improvement

In late June, the legislature passed and the governor signed the 2013-14 Pennsylvania General Fund budget.  While we shouldn’t be satisfied with the $28.4 billion spending plan which falls short of providing for much needed investments in education and job creation, it was time to move the process forward and put a budget in place.

In the beginning of June, Senate Democrats proposed own vision for a 2013-14 Pennsylvania budget, focusing on issues critical to Pennsylvania’s future.  The budget was centered on job growth, transportation, education and Medicaid expansion. 

While there are many things I would do differently had Senate Democrats been allowed to have a free hand in crafting the final spending plan, there are key elements in the budget that was signed into law that will provide positive results for Pennsylvania families.

Senate Democrats Budget Properly Funds Education, Job Creation, Social Services :: June, 3 2013

Click here to read transcription. Senate Democrats Budget Properly Funds Education, Job Creation, Social Services :: June, 3 2013

The enacted budget bolsters public safety by providing funding for nearly 300 new State Troopers.  It also includes increases for the Attorney General and an additional $3 million for the Child Predator Interception Unit.  These increases in funding maintain a commitment by our members to protect our communities and maintain safety for residents and their families.

While the budget contained some key funding elements, there were other controversial policy issues that Senate Democrats were successful in slowing down or stopping. From liquor privatization to a proposed addition of $45 billion in new pension costs that the Corbett administration called “reform,” Senate Democrats worked hard to reject these ill-advised policy initiatives. 

In particular, I was pleased to be part of a strong part of the effort to fight the governor’s attempt to privatize our wine and spirits system.  His ill-advised plan would have eliminated 5,000 family sustaining jobs, created new access to alcohol for our youth, while selling off a valuable asset.

While a comprehensive transportation package was not part of the 2013-14 budget, it remains a top priority.  Senate Democrats sought a plan to repair, improve and maintain Pennsylvania’s roads, bridges and mass transit systems.  We’ll continue to fight for a plan that addresses our current crisis but also provides for the future through job growth and continued investments.

Medicaid Expansion Remarks :: July, 3 2013
Medicaid Expansion Remarks :: July, 3 2013

Most concerning to my colleagues and I was the removal of Medicaid expansion from the Welfare Code bill by the Republicans in the House of Representatives.  My colleagues and I worked hard, and, on a bi-partisan basis, to devise expansion language that would be able to clear the Senate and be acceptable to the administration. 

The language crafted for the Welfare Code bill by the Senate would have allowed the governor to enter into an agreement with the federal government under certain conditions to expand Medicaid to cover more than 500,000 working Pennsylvanians.  Extending coverage to these families would have allowed them to gain access to health care while creating 35,000 to 40,000 jobs.

You can read more about Senate Democrats priorities and the initiatives passed here.

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For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me on the Internet through my website or on Facebook. Facebook