HARRISBURG – Continuing his commitment to standing up for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) cast a “yes” vote Tuesday on the 2019-20 state budget, which includes no new or increased taxes and sets money aside in the Rainy Day Fund.
“As a first-term representative, I am excited to support this budget proposal because it does not place any additional tax burdens on our residents or employers, and it sets a substantial amount of money aside to help the state weather future economic downturns,” Lewis said. “I want to see Pennsylvania realize its potential as an economic leader in the northeast, and both of these concepts will bring us closer to that goal.”
The $33.997 billion plan represents a spending increase of just 1.8% over last year, which is in line with the rate of inflation. Lewis said he is especially pleased by the limited spending increase since revenue collections are significantly exceeding projections as of the end of May.
“As soon as we saw that additional money coming in, House and Senate Republicans went on record that we wanted to see as much of that money as possible be invested in the state’s Rainy Day Fund rather than used to grow government spending,” Lewis said. “Right now, the fund has only enough money to keep government operating for about six hours, and that is clearly not enough.
“Under this budget, 100% of the money remaining at the end of this fiscal year, which is estimated at more than $250 million, will be set aside so we can weather the next economic downturn without further burdening the hard-working taxpayers,” he added.
Lewis said the budget invests an additional $432 million in preK-12 education, including $160 million more in basic education funding and $50 million more for special education funding. This increase will benefit students and taxpayers in both the Central Dauphin and Lower Dauphin school districts.
The education budget also provides a $10 million boost to career and technical education (CTE), which will help schools such as Dauphin County Technical School.
“Career and technical education is so important to help prepare our students for the high-quality, specialized jobs of today and tomorrow,” Lewis said. “I’m proud to support schools like DCTS that are doing an outstanding job for our kids. And the bottom line is, investments in CTE help put the Commonwealth – and our citizens – on a path to success.”
Other education-related investments include $60 million for school safety and security grants, and 2% increases across the board for higher education institutions such as community colleges and State System of Higher Education schools.
On the public safety front, Lewis noted the budget does not include a per capita fee on municipalities that rely solely on the Pennsylvania State Police for local law enforcement services. The fee called for by Gov. Tom Wolf would be a costly mandate for municipalities such as West Hanover and South Hanover. Instead, the budget includes an additional $100 million in General Fund money to support the law enforcement agency.
While Lewis is pleased with the overall approach of this year’s budget plan, he remains committed to putting additional checks in place to protect against excessive spending in the future. This includes restrictions on supplemental appropriations that spend beyond what was originally budgeted and a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit year-to-year spending increases to a rate based on inflation and population growth.
“Every dollar spent in the budget comes from our taxpayers, so we owe it to them to invest wisely,” Lewis said.
The budget bill was approved in the House by a vote of 140-62. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Andrew Lewis
105th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler