ICYMI: Governor Shapiro Discusses How His Budget Proposal Offers Commonsense Solutions to Recruit Frontline Workers, Protect Seniors, and Support Students Across Northeast Pennsylvania
March 09, 2023
“Pennsylvanians are facing critical labor shortages and I think we see this most acute in public safety, education, and in healthcare. These are frontline workers who we all depend upon. That’s why in my budget I’m proposing a $2,500 personal income tax credit for new cops, new teachers, and new nurses. We want to send a clear message: we want you here in our Commonwealth.”
HARRISBURG, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro joined WILK Newsradio to discuss his how his first budget proposal will support Northeast Pennsylvania by providing a personal income credit for new police officers, nurses, and teachers and expanding the Property Tax Rent rebate program.
The personal income tax credit will help Pennsylvania hire critical frontline workers as we face a serious workforce shortage. Governor Shapiro’s proposal to expand the Property Tax Rent Rebate will cover 175,000 more seniors and disabled Pennsylvanians and help them stay in their homes. Finally, the proposed investments in public schools will help local districts like North Pocono and Scranton, which will see significant increases in funding.
See below for key excerpts of Governor Shapiro’s appearance on WILK Newsradio and listen to the full interview here.
Learn more about Governor Shapiro’s budget here: shapirobudget.pa.gov.
ON SUPPORTING FRONTLINE WORKERS THROUGH A $2,500 PERSONAL INCOME TAX
Pennsylvanians are facing critical labor shortages. And I think we see this most acute in public safety education and in health care. So here’s just a few quick facts: one in four nursing jobs in Pennsylvania are unfilled. We’re short more than 1,200 municipal police officers across the Commonwealth. Scranton school district had 40 teacher vacancies going into the current school year. And I just think if we don’t act now, these numbers are going to get worse. These are frontline workers who we all depend upon. And so that’s why in my budget, I’m proposing a $2,500 personal income tax credit for new cops, new teachers, and new nurses every year for the next three years. Because we want to send a clear message that we want you here in our commonwealth. It’s better schools, healthier families, safer communities. I think we can all agree on that. So this tax credit is fully paid for. And it’s going to help those who need to help us.
ON THE PROPERTY TAX RENT REBATE PROGRAM
Seniors, primarily seniors, and also some of those who are disabled qualify in Pennsylvania for something called a Property Tax Rent Rebate. It’s basically a payment that helps them afford their rent or their mortgage. In fact, more than 24,000 residents in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties receive rebates. The problem is – and the rebates are wildly popular, right – the problem is the amount on those rebates. And who qualifies hasn’t been updated in 17 years, while the cost of living has gone up. So while cost of living has gone up, people have basically been priced out of getting this help. So my budget helps our seniors by expanding that help. So 175,000 More Pennsylvanians will now qualify for the rebate. And the rebate is going to be nearly doubled what it is now. So, more seniors, higher rebate that allows them to stay in their homes, it allows them to be able to afford the other things that they need to pay for food medicine, hanging out with their grandkids, whatever. They deserve that help. And this budget makes a massive investment in our seniors, and northeastern PA is really going to benefit from it.
ON MAKING AN INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION
I mean, we have to get meaningful things done. I think it starts in our classrooms. So we invested over a billion dollars in new money for education. But instead of just talking about the dollar amount, let’s talk about what it actually would do. So a big increase in funding for our local schools – Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and places in between – for the first time ever a massive commitment to mental health for our kids, over half a billion dollars over five years to be able to put counselors and other mental health services and all of our schools for universal breakfast for our children in public schools. We know kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. Investment of over half a billion dollars over five years in fixing up crumbling schools. Many of our older school buildings have serious needs and they’ve gone unaddressed for such a long time. And of course taking care of our teachers with higher pay and mental health services for them as well. And then finally, something that’s particularly important to me: we need more vo-tech back in our classrooms and helping kids chart their own course. So, this invests a lot more in vo-tech programs for our kids so that they can have successful lives that they choose for them, not that some bureaucrat in Harrisburg chooses for them.
ON WORKING WITH DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, AND INDEPENDENTS TO DELIVER FOR PENNSYLVANIA
I’m someone who has always brought Republicans and Democrats together to get things done. And I think we’re proving that in the first several weeks, I’ve been communicating with Republican leaders, I’ve made clear that I want to work with them. I’ve made clear what lines I wouldn’t cross and invited them to tell me what lines they wouldn’t cross so that we can recognize, you know, there’s probably like 70, or 80% of things left on the table, where we can find some common ground. One of the things I’ve always hated about the budget process in Harrisburg is governors stand up, they put forth these wish lists that don’t reflect reality. Oftentimes, the budgets aren’t really even balanced. And they sort of chastise the people on the other party. I took a decidedly different approach, I put forth a very responsible budget, it’s fully paid for it cuts taxes, it does not raise taxes. And it includes a number of parties that folks on the other side of the aisle care about. And so it gives us an opportunity to start out, not by fighting with one another, but with a lot of common ground in this budget. I’m fully aware that Republicans are going to have things that they want and areas where they might differ from us, I proposed, for example, that we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. For some reason Republicans have opposed that in the past, I get it, but I’m going to challenge them to move a little bit on that I’m sure they’re going to challenge me to move a little bit on some stuff. And, and that’s okay. That’s the way the process is supposed to work. My goal was to take some of the heat out of the room, some of the partisanship out of the room and show people that we got to work together to get big things done. And I’ve been really grateful, I should say, for the response that’s come from Republican leaders that you know, they’re ready to get to work and that they think this is a reasonable start of the process.