Preparing the 2014-15 State Budget
By State Rep. Curt Sonney
4th Legislative District

The House Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, just completed three weeks of budget hearings with state government’s major stakeholders. The proceedings are one of the most important elements in the process of crafting a spending plan for fiscal year 2014-15.

I’m sure you have heard bits and pieces of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Feb. 4 address, which essentially began the budget process. Members of the media focus on various items when disseminating information and deciding what’s important. The one thing to take from that address is its merely being a starting point down a road that will twist and turn before drawing to a conclusion on or before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

For me, the priority is jobs. Unemployment in Pennsylvania has dropped below 7 percent. While this is good news, we cannot be satisfied with that figure. Any true economic recovery occurs only when the job climate is robust. Ours has room to improve.

Here are some of the governor’s proposals:

• Increased funding ($363 million) for PreK-12 education. The total investment of $10.3 billion would be a state record, eclipsing the amount appropriated in the 2013 budget. Increased support for Pre-K Counts would bring an additional 1,670 children into the program.

• Increase welfare funding by nearly 4 percent. This includes more than $24 million to provide home and community-based services for an additional 1,250 individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.

• Expansion of the State Lottery to increase available service for older Pennsylvanians.

• Adding 350 state troopers through the addition of four new State Police classes.

• Grow the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) program through $5.5 million in increased funding, in order to provide health insurance for an additional 10,419 children.

Keep in mind that these are all proposals. The one thing we do know now about the final product is that, unlike the federal government, we must produce a balanced budget. Over the next four months, we will move in that direction based on existing, realistic revenues. I admit to concerns about where the money is coming from, as we have a large hole to fill based on the current numbers.

What I do know is I will fight to hold the line on unnecessary tax increases and debt incurred, as I have since taking office. We are seeing signs of economic growth, but cannot get ahead of ourselves in spending.

Pennsylvania is moving in the right direction. I am confident what is signed into law in late June will continue us down that path.

Questions about this or any legislative issue may be directed to my Corry office at (814) 664-9126 or my Harborcreek office at (814) 897-2080.

Representative Curt Sonney
4th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little

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