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Governor Wolf Urges Legislature to Tackle Gun Violence, Student Debt, Toxic Schools

February 04, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf today called upon Pennsylvanians to imagine a better commonwealth – one with a stronger workforce, better schools, safer communities, and more opportunities for everyone – and then laid out an ambitious agenda for his 2020-21 budget that moves Pennsylvania toward that vision.

“This year, I believe we have an opportunity to make enormous progress towards delivering on William Penn’s vision for what Pennsylvania could be,” said Gov. Wolf. “After five years of tough decisions and necessary investments, we have guided our commonwealth out of crisis and put Pennsylvania back on a path to prosperity. But we have a long way to travel.

“The work ahead will call upon our determination, our creativity, and our courage. But because we cannot build what we cannot envision, today we can begin by imagining the Pennsylvania we can create together – not for some far-off future generation, but for the people we came here to serve – right now.”

Governor Tom Wolf is Investing in Our Schools and Making it Easier for Students to Pursue Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Governor Wolf continues to keep his promise to make education a priority through investments that assist Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement with accessing affordable, high-quality education programs.

Early Education
Governor Wolf wants no child to fall behind early in life. In 2019, Governor Wolf secured a $30 million increase for early education, creating approximately 2,200 new slots in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and 465 new slots in the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. He also secured an increase of $15 million for preschool Early Intervention services. Since the governor took office in 2015, pre-K funding has increased by $145 million, more than doubling, to serve an additional 13,500 children.

  • The governor is calling for funding that will boost slots in programs like Pre-K Counts, Head Start and Early Intervention while increasing incentives to encourage and retain child care workers and teachers.
  • The governor is seeking a statewide expansion to full-day kindergarten to ensure every child, regardless of school district residence, is given the opportunity to engage in a full continuum of educational programming during a critical time in childhood.

K-12 Funding and Reform
Governor Wolf wants every child to have access to educational opportunities. After restoring the billion dollar cut to our public schools, he is making another $405 million available for our schools.

  • The governor is seeking $100 million for basic education and $25 million for special education funding.
  • The governor is seeking comprehensive Charter School Law reform to help ensure all public schools in our commonwealth are providing high-quality education to every child. This reform will makes another $280million available for school districts.

Higher Education
Governor Wolf recognizes that too many Pennsylvanians are unable to attend institutions of higher education in our commonwealth without taking on significant debt.

  • Governor Wolf is creating a new $200 million scholarship program through the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that will help more Pennsylvanians earn a degree with fewer loans, while encouraging educated young people to build their lives in Pennsylvania.
  • Governor Wolf is also proposing funding to support PASSHE’s education redesign that will make our state school system competitive and modern.
  • Governor Wolf is also investing $60 million with PHEAA for increases in grants for Pennsylvania students.

Governor Tom Wolf is Making Pennsylvania the Best Place for Workers and Businesses

Governor Wolf believes Pennsylvania should be a leader in attracting top talent, entrepreneurs and innovators. Last year, the governor created the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center to gain a new understanding of the challenges faced by employers and workers. His PAsmart program has invested $50 million over the past two years to expand apprenticeships and job training and bring new STEM and computer science programs to schools across Pennsylvania.

Supporting Workers and Improving the Workforce

  • Governor Wolf is proposing an increase in the minimum wage to $12 per hour on July 1, 2020, with annual increases to $15 per hour by July 1, 2026.
  • Governor Wolf’s budget supports recommendations made by the Command Center that work toward the creation of a better climate for businesses and employees. A new $12 million grant program will allow the commonwealth to fund projects tailored to addressing issues that have been identified as obstacles to employment — transportation, child care, re-entry, licensure and training.
  • Governor Wolf’s budget also requests a $2 million increase in funding to the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania, which assists companies with providing incumbent employees with training, encouraging them to build their workforce.
  • Governor Wolf’s budget funds PAsmart and Career and Technical Education to continue Pennsylvania’s progress with building a stronger workforce and preparing students with the knowledge and hands-on skills to succeeds in jobs that will grow the economy.

Investing in Jobs and Innovation, Creating a Stronger, Fairer Business Climate

  • Governor Wolf’s budget makes $12.35 million in targeted investments, distributed through key partners, which will serve as a catalyst to create an ecosystem in our commonwealth for innovation to thrive. Building on the successful launch of the PA Business One-Stop Shop, this budget proposal cements Governor Wolf’s dedication to creating the friendliest entrepreneurial environment in the country
  • The governor’s budget advances his mission to grow jobs and make Pennsylvania the most business-friendly state in the nation. Leveraging economic development wins such as Shell, UPS, Amazon, and PhilaPort have helped create jobs, stimulate the economy and raise Pennsylvania’s profile throughout the world. Last year the commonwealth exported more than $650 million in goods, brought in about $46 million in tax revenue, and PhilaPort officially opened its first new terminal in over 45 years.
  • Governor Wolf is calling for corporate tax reform through closing the Delaware Loophole and a decreasing to the corporate net income tax to 5.99 by 2025.

Governor Tom Wolf is Committed to Reducing Gun Violence and Keeping Pennsylvanians Safe

Governor Wolf believes every Pennsylvania has a fundamental right to live free from fear.

  • Governor Wolf is calling on the legislature to pass comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases, a red flag law, improved lost and stolen gun reporting requirements, safe storage practices, and legislation to ban ghost guns.
  • Governor Wolf’s budget directs $6 million in funding to evidence-based gun violence prevention programs through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and $4 million to the Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force that will support initiatives to eliminate all types of violence, including gun violence.

Governor Tom Wolf is Protecting and Supporting All Pennsylvanians

Governor Wolf wants every Pennsylvanian to have the opportunity for a happy, successful life. Last year, the governor established the Council on Reform, which conducted research and made recommendations on how the commonwealth can improve its support of vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

  • Governor Wolf’s budget commits more than $24 million to this vision by directing funding to programs that assist Pennsylvanians with moving off waiting lists and into community programs.
  • Governor Wolf supports the expansion of programs that have shown success, such as the Court Appointed Special Assistant Advocate program and the Pennsylvania Agriculture Surplus System.

Governor Wolf’s budget backfills federal funding cuts to ensure vulnerable Pennsylvanians are gaining, not losing, support.

  • Governor Wolf is proposing $5.1 million to several Human Services program areas for increased staff to support workloads and complete timely, accurate inspections of facilities.

Governor Tom Wolf is Investing in Environmental Protection and Our Natural Resources

Governor Wolf wants Pennsylvania’s beautiful skies, scenic vistas, and clean waterways to be enjoyed by many future generations.

  • Governor Wolf’s budget seeks to protect and restore our shared environment through a $2.5 million increase in funding for core initiatives within the Department of Environmental Protection and $2.5 million in funding for more state park and forest rangers.
  • Governor Wolf is also seeking the implementation of a $1 per ton tipping fee for the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund, which is facing a phase-out of its existing funding source. Finally, the governor recognizes that growth must be balanced with safety.
  • Governor Wolf is also asking the legislature to pass legislation that increases safety during the construction and operation of pipelines.

Governor Tom Wolf is Making Significant Investments in Repairing and Improving our Infrastructure

Governor Wolf believes that Pennsylvanians deserve a modern, connected commonwealth that is free from contaminants.

  • Governor Wolf’s budget includes plans to make more than $1 billion available to combat lead, asbestos, and other contaminants.
  • Governor Wolf is also continuing to pursue $4.5 billion in funding through his Restore Pennsylvania plan, which will be used to upgrade and make repairs to Pennsylvania’s aging infrastructure.

Pennsylvanians can find out more about Governor Wolf’s budget at budget.pa.gov.

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