— Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) issued the following statement in response to passage of the Fiscal Year 2022-23 state budget:
“In a perfect world, I am certain every person who has the ability to vote and weigh in on the budget would craft their own, which would result in 254 budgets. With divided government, it makes the process of passing a budget more difficult. The fact of the matter is compromise is necessary to govern and to craft a budget. No budget is perfect. There are things in the budget I like and things I do not. Every member of the General Assembly and the governor would probably agree with that. I believe this budget sets a good balance, although, I would have liked to have seen less spending. Knowing we are working with divided government and a governor who has a record of wanting to spend, the reality is this was a good landing spot with no new or increased taxes and puts Pennsylvania on a path to economic recovery setting the Commonwealth up for long-term success.
“This budget includes many important initiatives and has a lot of which to be proud. While many people will focus on the total amount of spending and increases in many line items throughout the budget, I think it is important that this budget puts more than $2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and carries over $3.6 billion to next year’s budget. This will more than likely be needed as the economy slows and worries of a recession continue. While planning for the future doesn’t generate headlines, it is important and affects everyone. If revenues decline as expected, having this money available will help alleviate the need to increase taxes in next year’s budget. It puts the Commonwealth in the strongest financial position it’s ever been in before a possible recession.
“This budget also allocates the remaining $2.1 billion in COVID-19 federal monies. The vast majority of this money will be used for one-time expenditures, including investments in local law enforcement, water and sewer projects, state parks, childcare, student loan relief for nurses, long-term living programs, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program, and affordable housing to name a few.
“For the first time this century, an agreement to reduce the Corporate Net Income Tax rate was reached. The rate will drop to 8.99% from 9.99% in January and then be reduced by 0.5% each year until it reaches 4.99%. This will remove us from the list of states with the highest business taxes.
“Another important investment in this year’s budget is the $100 million for student mental health. My legislation to distribute these funds to our schools was signed into law as part of the budget. This will give each school district a minimum of $100,000, plus an additional amount based on average daily attendance, in order to help address mental health needs while providing flexibility in how these dollars are spent to maximize its impact. Addressing school safety and mental health was my top priority going into this budget.
“Education has always been a priority and this budget shows that. Included in this year’s budget were six of my proposals signed into law as part of the Education Code. More specifically, they are the largest investment in student mental health and school safety focused grants in state history, establishment of a catalog of online courses for K-12 students and teachers, adding a year of eligibility for special education students to combat learning loss, creating a structured literacy program to address early literacy, adding a disability inclusion curriculum pilot program, and allowing charter schools to offer dual enrollment along with efforts to increase diversity in teaching and recruitment to help address teacher shortages. This budget also allocates an additional $542 million for basic education, $100 million more for special education, and $60 million more for PreK Counts. This increases the state’s total investment in basic and special education to $8.97 billion.”
“Finally, I am proud to support a budget that funds two new state police cadet classes. Many troopers are nearing retirement age, and concerns have been raised about a possible shortage of officers. This funding will add an additional 200 troopers to the ranks.”
For more information on the 2022-23 budget, visit pahousegop.com/statebudget
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.