While the proposed $33.2 billion state General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 unveiled by the Governor today would increase support for job training initiatives, Senator Dan Laughlin is urging the Administration to take steps to make Erie eligible for a new federal program designed to promote economic development.
“I have serious concerns about the Governor’s $1.2 billion increase in spending in his budget proposal. That is definitely something that I and my colleagues will be taking a long, hard look at,” said Senator Laughlin. “Some of that spending increase is for basic education, which does benefit our schools. The Governor is also proposing to increase state support for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and apprenticeship programs to better prepare students for employment opportunities. However, his budget doesn’t take advantage of a new federal program that would benefit Erie.”
A new federal Opportunity Zone Program was enacted as part of the 2017 federal tax reform package to drive long-term capital to rural and low-income urban communities throughout the nation and use tax incentives to encourage private investment.
“Erie is Pennsylvania’s fourth largest city and we have the poorest zip code in the state, 16501. Therefore, we fit the bill for this federal program. We need the Governor to designate the area as a CRIZ (City Revitalization & Improvement Zone) by March 20,” Senator Laughlin said. “The Governor has said that he won’t fund any additional CRIZ, but we have to change his mind. We need Erie on that list so that it would qualify as a federal opportunity zone. That designation would promote an enhanced revitalization effort in one of the poorest communities of the state.” Video
The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $1.2 billion (3.7 percent) increase in state spending from the current fiscal year. The Governor is not requesting a broad-based tax increase this year, but is continuing to push for a Marcellus Shale extraction tax and a $25 per-capita fee for municipalities that rely on the State Police for local police coverage.
The Governor is requesting a $100 million increase in Basic Education Funding ($6.09 billion); a $40 million increase for early childhood education; and, a $20 million increase in special education funding. The State System of Higher Education would see a $15 million increase, while state funding for community colleges and state-related universities is flat lined in the Governor’s request.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a three-week series of Departmental Budget Hearings beginning on February 20. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee to hear cabinet secretaries and other Administration officials detail their plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The state’s current fiscal year ends on June 30.
Contact: Matt Azeles firstname.lastname@example.org