In a surprising change of events from the past several years, the General Assembly and the Governor were able to not only reach an agreement on a state budget, but we were actually able to put the spending plan in place a full week ahead of the June 30 deadline.
The General Appropriations Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19, enacted as Act 1A of 2018, increases state support for education and maintains the core responsibilities of state government without a tax increase. Despite increases in mandated expenses – including pensions, health care and human services – the overall increase in state spending was held to 1.7 percent and represents a figure well below the rate of inflation and within the limits prescribed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
I am especially pleased that this budget also makes a historic investment in school safety with $70 million in funding – including more than $60 million in new money — for school resource officers, security equipment and other proven methods of preventing school violence.
Increased school safety funding is something that I believed was needed and I pushed for it to be included in the FY 2018-19 budget. School safety is an issue that has been at the forefront of public opinion across the Commonwealth and I am glad that my request did not fall on deaf ears.
I truly believe that this funding is a good start to address some of the concerns I have heard from my constitutions regarding the safety of their children and grandchildren here in Erie County and across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Part of the challenge in addressing school safety is the fact that every school district is different and has its own unique needs and circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The measures needed by Strong Vincent Middle School in Erie may be much different from Corry Middle School and the needs of both are likely vastly different from those of William L. Sayre Middle School in Philadelphia – noted by the state Department of Education as a Persistently Dangerous School.
The additional funding for school safety grants in this year’s budget will allow each school district to evaluate its needs and vulnerabilities and apply for funding to shore up any weaknesses that exist.
The key is flexibility. We do not intend this school safety initiative to be an impractical government mandate. Rather, we want to provide the resources and the opportunity for the state and school districts to work together to meet the needs of students.
This is just a part of our continuing effort in this area and I expect school safety will continue to be a major area of emphasis for the General Assembly this fall.
In closing, I encourage local residents to visit my website, www.senatorlaughlin.com, and my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/senatorlaughlin/, to keep up to date with state government news – including the state budget — and learn more about state services and agencies.
Contact: Matt Azeles firstname.lastname@example.org