Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on the major bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for the compromise General Appropriations bill:
“Over the past two years, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to make progress for the people of Pennsylvania.
“After decades of failure, we passed pension reform that will put Pennsylvania on the path to a sustainable fiscal future, save taxpayers billions, and reduce payments to Wall Street fund managers. This budget fully funds our pension obligations. We passed the most significant liquor reform since prohibition. We set our differences aside, and made real changes for customers and taxpayers.
“After years of devastating education cuts, we have restored more than $800 million in education funding. I am going to keep fighting to fix our schools, but this budget represents one of the most significant investments in schools in our lifetime. And we passed a fair funding formula, taking Pennsylvania off a shameful list of states without a way to fairly fund their schools. This budget keeps investing in schools.
“Together, we’ve fought the heroin and opioid crisis that continues to plague our communities. We have developed treatment options and provided lifesaving medicine, but we know the crisis has not abated so we’re continuing to fight by making drug courts available to low level offenders so those who are struggling can get treatment.
“Today, we finalized a general appropriations bill. It’s a start, and it’s not everything I wanted or everything Republicans wanted, but unlike D.C., we can compromise and get things done just like when we passed bipartisan pension reform and bipartisan liquor reform.
“This budget includes much of the savings, efficiencies, and cuts I proposed in February in my budget address. But we avoided deep, indiscriminate cuts that would have endangered our ability to deliver services to the people of Pennsylvania.
“This budget invests over $175 million more in our schools. Over the past two years, we’ve restored more than $800 million in cuts to schools.
“This budget helps those in Pennsylvania who need help the most. It reduces the waiting list for those with intellectual disabilities; this budget makes additional investments in our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic; this budget invests in key programs to create manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania, and allows the commonwealth to team up with businesses and institutions of higher learning to create jobs and a strong workforce.
“And it builds on our efforts to make government more efficient and responsive. We consolidated IT and HR functions, and through an internal team focused on finding efficiencies and making government more effective, we have saved over $150 million and improved customer service at places like DMVs. I have rolled up my sleeves and worked with employees throughout the commonwealth to deliver change and efficiencies, and I am heartened that the legislature has joined my efforts.
“But there is still work to do: We need a sustainable revenue package that gets Pennsylvania on track. For too many years, Pennsylvania has lurched from crisis to crisis. We began to address it with pension reform, and by fully funding our pension obligation, we have taken another important step. But Pennsylvania cannot get ahead if we do not take our responsibility for long term financial stability seriously. Let’s redouble our efforts, and continue to show people the progress we can make by working together.”