Governor Shapiro lays out his plans to alleviate costs, build a strong workforce, and help businesses in PA
Shapiro delivered his first-ever budget to the Pennsylvania legislature with investments in public safety, mental health, and more.
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Governor Josh Shapiro delivered his first budget proposal to the General Assembly in Harrisburg on Tuesday morning, March 7, making key investments in public safety, job creation, small businesses, retention and recruiting programs, education and a plan to alleviate costs for Pennslvanians.
“This budget is packed with commonsense solutions to the problems the people of Pennsylvania face every single day,” said Shapiro in his address to the General Assembly.
Shapiro also encouraged alliance between both parties given their division in the chambers, and unity might soon come to the State Capitol as an overwhelming number of Democrats praised the budget alongside a few Republicans.
For the governor, it starts with education, which is due an overhaul in the state after a major court decision earlier this year ruled that the way the state funded its system was unconstitutional.
“It starts the long process of making our education system more fair so that every child in this Commonwealth has a shot. The people of Pennsylvania have entrusted us with the responsibility to negotiate and come together,” said Shapiro. “So instead of playing politics as usual, let's show the people that we are up to this task.”
His over 90-minute address was not only a memorable one for Shapiro given it’s his first as Governor, but it was also a historic moment for the two women who hold the top jobs in their chamber — House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia) and Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland).
“It cuts red tape, speeds up permitting, and supports business. It strengthens our communities and makes them safer and more just,” he said of his proposed budget.
Cutting Costs for Pennsylvania Families
Mounting prices for basic necessities such as food and gas have overly emptied the pockets of Pennsylvanians. Shapiro vowed during his campaign to help the Commonwealth combat high inflation by eliminating the state cell phone tax, particularly the gross receipts tax and the sales tax.
The Governor said this would save Pennsylvanians upwards of $124 million annually.
Shapiro, notably, also included a significant expansion of the Property Tax Rent Rebate in his budget proposal.
The maximum rebate under the proposal would increase from $650 to $1000 a year while the income cap for renters and homeowners would increase to $45,000 a year.
That cap would be bound to the cost of living “so that this Commonwealth never has to tell another senior ‘sorry, you're out of luck’ because their Social Security payment went up and we didn't act,” Shapiro said.
His budget would mean nearly 175,000 more Pennsylvanians qualify and for the 400,000 already qualified seniors — their rebates will almost double.
Creating communal wealth
Shapiro also continued to build on actions he took in his first weeks in office that made a down payment on innovation and economic development. According to Tuesday’s proposal, the budget will invest 50% more in the state’s Manufacturing Innovation Program.
The program connects all state universities with businesses to help spark job creation in their own backyards. There is also additional funding for Shapiro’s Office of Transformation and Opportunity, a full service for businesses looking to grow and contribute to bolster Pennsylvania’s economy.
Shapiro also announced $20 million for the creation of a new state program that would supplement previous federal investments by investing in historically-marginalized businesses across the state and provide support such as capital.
Many disadvantaged businesses do not have access because they are three times more likely to be denied loans, pay a higher interest rate, and receive lower loan amounts than non-minority owned firms.
Shapiro also touted the major opportunity that the state has in creating more energy and tech jobs — something he also hit on the campaign trail — emphasizing the importance of securing at least one regional hydrogen hub.
His administration wants hydrogen to be homegrown and for that to take place, investments are needed so it can attract businesses to create thousands of jobs. This also includes the agricultural economy of the state, which contributes $132 billion a year.
The new budget would give Pennsylvania’s farms more access to capital and open up new markets by funding a new Organic Center of Excellence.
The Governor is also investing in the state’s poor infrastructure and trying to combat the understaffing of public transit workers. Shapiro proposes to do so by freeing up more of the Motor License Fund, making an estimated $1.5 billion available for projects.
Building a strong workforce
Shapiro is also putting money and resources into the current shortage of workers with industries like nursing, law enforcement, and education having over thousands of unfilled positions.
The budget will invest $24.7 million in job retention and recruitment efforts to also attract more workers.
There is also a refundable tax credit for those who earn a new license or certification in one of those three fields, or for anyone who has a license and decides to move to the state for work, giving back upwards of $2,500 back to residents every year for up to three years.
Childcare is often ignored or considered trivial in certain matters but because of it, it is costing the state economy nearly $3.5 billion a year because of the lack of childcare options, and particularly affordable options.
The budget also proposes up to $66.7 million in childcare services for low-income families, an increase of $30 million for the Pre-K Counts program, and $2.7 million in funding for the Head Start Supplemental Program to help address staffing shortages in early childhood education programs.
Shapiro is looking to boost the economy and is now expanding the workforce, and building pathways between schools and the workforce by introducing a $23.8 million investment in workforce training and apprenticeship programs and strengthening skills-building programs that lead to living-wage employment.
“Government can and should be a force for good in our lives,” Shapiro said. “We can do big things again – if we work together.”