ICYMI: Governor Josh Shapiro Highlights How His Budget Proposal Will Continue to Get Stuff Done, Create Opportunity All Across PA
February 09, 2024
“I want us to win in Pennsylvania. I want us to do better in Pennsylvania. I want us to excel and the way we excel is by making responsible investments like I proposed in my budget. My budget is balanced – it’s fully paid for, and it makes good use of Pennsylvania tax dollars.”
– Governor Josh Shapiro
From talking up his budget investments in Lancaster to sitting for nine interviews spanning every media market in Pennsylvania, Governor Shapiro is hitting the road and the airwaves to make the case that now is the time to invest.
Harrisburg, PA – This week, Governor Josh Shapiro presented his 2024-25 budget proposal to the General Assembly and to the people of Pennsylvania – sharing his ‘get stuff done’ approach and vision to prioritize economic opportunity and access to higher education, making historic investments in public education, supporting law enforcement and public safety, ensuring people receive the care they need, and funding critical initiatives to help Pennsylvanians from our cities to our farmlands.
Leaders from across Pennsylvania have praised the “thorough, bold” and “historic” budget proposal that would address the most pressing challenges facing the Commonwealth and create real opportunity for all.
The Governor did a series of radio and TV interviews, speaking directly to Pennsylvanians in Pittsburgh, Scranton, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Altoona, Erie, and Philadelphia. Additional interviews will run in the Erie and Johnstown news markets in the coming days.
See below for key excerpts from Governor Shapiro’s interviews with TV and radio stations across the Commonwealth:
ON THE BALANCED, RESPONSIBLE BUDGET PROPOSAL TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY ACROSS PA
“There is a $14 billion surplus – that means that overtime, politicians in Harrisburg have taken $14 billion more from the good people of Pennsylvania than they need, and then they brag about how they’ve kept it in some bank account in Harrisburg instead of investing it back in the good people of Pennsylvania as I want to do. My budget is balanced. It doesn’t raise taxes. In fact, it cuts them. It makes significant investments in important things like education, economic development, public transit, just to name a few. If the legislature were to pass every single proposal that I put forth – and I’m just saying this as an example, because obviously we’re going to have some give and take – but if they were to pass every single thing I put forth, there would still be an $11 billion surplus at the end of that. Now is the time to invest – and the reason for that is we have an unconstitutional K-12 education system, we are 49th in the nation in higher ed, we are falling behind on economic development to our neighbors like New York and New Jersey. I want us to win in Pennsylvania. I want us to do better in Pennsylvania. If some folks want us to fall behind – that’s on them. I want us to excel and the way we excel is by making responsible investments like I proposed in my budget. My budget is balanced – it’s fully paid for, and it makes good use of Pennsylvania tax dollars.”
ON HISTORIC INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION
“The Commonwealth Court ruled that we have an unconstitutional education system and it’s unconstitutional for two reasons: number one, we don’t invest enough in public education; and number two, we don’t drive those dollars out in the most equitable manner meaning into the districts that need it most. I propose that we get started on making major investments in public education. Obviously, they need to be sustained over many years to reach that $ 5billion or so number that you cited. That’s why my first year the Philadelphia schools just as an example would see 16% increase, that’s $240 million more for our Philadelphia School students and obviously other districts in the southeast – Norristown, others that have been falling behind would see significant increases as well. We need to make sure that our schools have what they need to give our kids the best opportunity to succeed. Now is the time to make these investments.”
ON INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE TO $15 AN HOUR
“Every one of our neighbors, including West Virginia, has a higher minimum wage than we do in Pennsylvania. And we’re losing workers along our borders, we’re seeing workers in Maryland who go to Maryland, go to New York and other states with higher wages. We’re losing out on workforce and it’s a competitiveness issue. I think the question is not to be directed toward me in terms of where we end up, but to the Senate Republicans as to where they got the question that they ducked and dodged on for many years they’ve been opposed because they’re okay with 7$.25 an hour. I think they have to answer for that. That’s the Republicans. It’s not where I am. It’s not where the House of Representatives and I intend to make this a central focus of our efforts as we go forward to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.”
“The bottom line is: I’m unwilling to sit back and do nothing. And we should all be trying to do something here. So, I’m unwilling to accept those who just want to be critical and not put forth any concrete solutions. Again, my plan is fully paid for. We cut taxes; we don’t raise them. And even if you do everything I want, we still got $11 billion left at the end of the day, to continue to do more things in the future. It’s fiscally responsible. It’s time we compete.”
ON HIS NEW BLUEPRINT FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
“We have three different types of state colleges and universities, community colleges, our State System of Higher Education people call them PASSHE schools, and our state related think, Pitt an example, I am proposing to combine our community colleges and our PASSHE system, put 15% more money into those schools and allow them to work together in order to compete more effectively.
ON CREATING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
“When you look at my economic development plan, we’re going to take the fight not just to our neighbors around us, but also to the nation and globally in energy is an area where we should not only compete nationally, we need to compete globally, I made clear that energy is one of the five pillars of our economic development strategy…. Look, we’ve got a rich heritage in Pennsylvania when it comes to our energy economy. It has quite literally powered this nation. I think Pennsylvania is poised to lead the nation there – whether it’s on hydrogen with natural gas or with batteries and solar. We’re kind of an all-of-the-above energy state and I’m excited about our future. We’re going to put real resources behind our energy economy.”
ON HISTORIC EDUCATION FUNDING
“I proposed the largest increase in public education funding ever in the history of Pennsylvania all in with some of our savings and some of our reforms that would be nearly $2 billion more for our public schools driven out more equitably. A school district like Scranton, for example, would see a 25% increase in their state share of education funding, and this would set us on a path of success and opportunity for our young people.”
“Give them a quality education, allowing them to fix up old crumbling buildings, have more money for mental health, continue free breakfast for our kids, and then give them that choice when they are reaching the point of graduation whether they want to go in the workforce where they want to go to college. And we want to make both paths opportunity paths for them so there is the opportunity there for some of the schools that were kind of left behind a little bit to get a lot more. So they’re not always lagging.”
ON SUPPORTING PENNSYVLANIANS’ MENTAL HEALTH
“We’re investing more in the 988 mental health help hotline so people can call that and get the help that they need. There’s a lot of other supports for mental health that are being funded at higher levels in this budget. We’ve got to attack this issue and frankly, I think we also have responsibility and to speak openly about this issue and reduce the stigma associated with mental health and encourage people to get the help that they need.”
ON TAKING ACTION TO GROW OUR ECONOMY AND COMPETE
“We’re getting our clocks cleaned on economic development from our neighbors like New York, New Jersey, Ohio. We’ve got to compete – and this is a budget that allows us to invest in education, safety, be more competitive, give tax cuts and still have $11 billion leftover in a surplus when all is said and done. I think folks understand that now’s the time to invest.”
ON LEGALIZING MARIJUANA
“To me this really comes down to an issue now of competitiveness, every one of our neighboring states, right, New York and New Jersey legalized it Ohio just voted to legalize it. We’re losing out on $250 million a year in revenue that could go to anything from economic development to education, you name it…. We’re focused on lifting up Pennsylvania businesses in the process, not these big national conglomerates, and we’re empowering people in local communities to that I think some good can come from it.”
“I think what you’re beginning to see is, you know, for the from the thoughtful folks out there, some bipartisan support emerging, you’ve got Democrats and Republicans sponsoring bills to legalize it. It’s obviously wildly popular across the country and certainly is polling regionally and then in the state.”
ON THE BALANCED BUDGET AND INVESTING IN PENNSYLVANIANS
“My budget does not raise taxes. In fact, it cuts taxes or cuts business taxes to help us be more competitive – and we don’t need to raise taxes. In Pennsylvania we have a $14 billion – with a ‘B,’ billion – dollar surplus. That means we’ve taken $14 billion more in than we need. We’re now in a position where we can invest.”
See what Pennsylvania editorial boards are saying about Governor Shapiro’s budget and its historic proposals in K-12 and higher education, economic development, public transit, and more:
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