Due to the unprecedented times we are currently experiencing, the General Assembly and the governor agreed upon a $25.8 billion state budget a month before the deadline in order to bring stability to those programs, services and agencies that rely on state funding. In order to provide that stability while also budgeting responsibly, the budget covers the next five months of funding with the exception of education and some human services programs, which are being funded for an entire 12 months.
This approach was taken in order to give state leaders time to better assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state revenues, especially due to tax collection dates having been changed to July and August.
In five months, part II of the budget will be crafted with a more complete economic picture in front of us to base funding on for the remaining seven months of the year.
Getting students back in the classrooms this fall is a top priority for all of us; however, we want it done safely and responsibly, which the budget provides the necessary resources to do. We have committed to funding all aspects of preK-12 and higher education at the same level as the current fiscal year for a full 12 months. This gives our school districts the stability they need when determining their own budgets for the school year.
In addition, federal stimulus dollars will also be distributed to school districts, which will push their actual funding amounts for the 2020-21 fiscal year above that of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Federal stimulus amounts for school districts in the 134th Legislative District are as follows:
• Brandywine Heights Area School District - $163,710.
• East Penn School District - $626,664.
• Fleetwood Area School District - $313,881.
• Parkland School District - $1,166,974.
• Salisbury School District - $183,244.
• Upper Perkiomen School District - $238,934.
Along with the budget, we also passed Senate Bill 1108, which was signed into law, that will distribute funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help those most impacted by the pandemic. This includes $420 million to assist nursing homes with COVID-19-related costs, $50 million to help Pennsylvanians with food insecurity and $225 million for grants to small businesses.
Counties will also benefit from $625 million in block grants to help them address financial impacts brought about by the pandemic. Berks County is set to receive $38 million and Lehigh County is set to receive $33.3 million. The funding may be used by counties to help with the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment, help local governments, and provide grants to small businesses, among other options.
I supported the budget because it was the most reasonable and prudent plan we could adopt at this time that funds the core functions of government while allowing us the opportunity to gather additional information before making further financial commitments. And, I supported Senate Bill 1108 to drive out federal dollars quickly to those who need it most during this financially challenging time.
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman