Governor Tom Wolf proposes first budget of second term

Governor Tom Wolf delivered the first budget address of his second term on Tuesday, February 5, outlining his proposal for the 2019-20 state budget.

Wolf’s $34.1 billion proposal includes no new taxes, and seeks authorization for another $1.9 billion in new spending, or nearly 6 percent more. The higher spending would go toward public schools, pension obligations and social services.

Wolf’s proposal maintains his commitment to public education, strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce and combating the opioid epidemic.

The proposal includes familiar ideas, including increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage and closing the “Delaware Loophole.”

Also, the budget proposal provides increases of $200 million for basic education, $50 million for Pre-K and Head Start, $50 million for special education, $7 million for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and $8 million in one-time grants for community college students or graduates who are working in Pennsylvania.

On top of the focus on education, Wolf focused heavily on bolstering Pennsylvania’s workforce.

“It has always been workers that have propelled our prosperity,” Wolf said.

The proposal includes a package of policies and investments called SWEAP, the Statewide Workforce, Education and Accountability Program, which would provide educational and employment opportunities for Pennsylvanians of all ages and build on the success of the PAsmart initiative.

Wolf also announced the launch of the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, which will be created by executive order. The program will bring the public and private sectors together to focus on increasing opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement.

“The governor’s budget proposal demonstrates Tom Wolf’s commitment to a strong workforce that is supported by a comprehensive education system,” Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman said.

“On top of that, these workforce development programs keep labor at the table, which will be key to the success of Pennsylvania’s middle class. I hope the legislature will work with the Wolf Administration to pass these proposals.”