|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
The new state budget that was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in June keeps spending in check while funding the core functions of government without raising taxes or adding new fees.
The $40 billion budget also plans for the future by directing $2.6 billion to the Rainy Day Fund to protect against tax hikes or service cuts in the coming years. This is Pennsylvania’s equivalent of a family’s savings account, meant to help us weather short-term economic slowdowns by using these funds to meet our obligations rather than turning to taxpayers to send more of their hard-earned money to Harrisburg. It brings the balance in the Rainy Day Fund to an historic level of $2.87 billion.
The budget also preserves $5 billion in federal relief funds to be used in future budgets. While there were many calls to spend all this money, we are facing a lot of uncertainty in our economy in the coming years. The various rounds of federal stimulus money distributed during the pandemic in higher-than-expected revenues for the state, but income taxes were flat, meaning people were spending stimulus dollars but not increasing their earnings. That points to potential trouble ahead. It is important to use this money wisely to protect against higher taxes or drastic cuts in the years to come.
There is additional funding for public education in this spending plan, with $300 million more in basic education funding, $30 million more for early childhood education and $50 million more for special education. Also, $350 million in federal relief funds is designated to help address students impacted by learning loss due to the pandemic.
Additional federal money is being invested in road and bridge projects ($279 million); supporting nursing, assisted living and personal care homes in their ongoing efforts to protect against the pandemic ($282 million); and career and technical education ($44 million).
This is a smart budget that is mindful of our responsibility of standing up for taxpayers, and that is why I supported it.
Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office