HARRISBURG – Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) issued the following statement in reaction to the passage of a 2016-17 state spending plan:
“I am encouraged that the final budget agreement, totaling $31.53 billion, addresses some of the most critical priorities of our local communities. The additional $200 million for education, the restoration of vital funding for agriculture programs cut in the Governor’s proposal, as well as the additional $15 million to help combat the growing crisis of heroin and opioid abuse are welcome signs for parents and families in southwestern Pennsylvania. Additionally, this agreement incorporates modernization of our state’s wine and spirits system which will provide more convenience for consumers, create new revenue for the Commonwealth and set the stage for full privatization in the future.
“While I am thankful that the budget incorporates these elements and was approved promptly without the bitterness and consequences of last year’s prolonged impasse, this spending plan is not a perfect product. Much of the spending increase is driven by state and federal mandates relating to area such as corrections, human services, and public employee pension costs. In fact, $485 million in new spending alone was required to fulfill the state’s public pension obligations. When you remove these mandated costs, this budget represents an increase of about 1.8 percent over last year’s budget.
“As we move forward, it’s time we focus our attention and address a number of the pressing cost challenges that continue to plague our Commonwealth, such as the pension crisis that is rapidly spiraling out of control. I am hopeful we can build on this spirit of cooperation in the months to come so we can finally address this growing problem, as well as identify more savings in next year’s budget to limit the growth in the cost of state government. This is the type of leadership citizens expect from their elected officials.”
CONTACT: Katrina Anderson (717) 787-1463