HARRISBURG, February 7, 2017 — State Sen. Sharif Street issued the following statement today on the governor’s budget address for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year:
“Pennsylvania is faced with difficult decisions this year as the General Assembly prepares to address the state budget that includes a massive deficit. Governor Wolf has proposed a state budget that is fiscally prudent and still makes investments without proposing a broad-based tax increase. It is not an easy feat and I applaud him for making tough choices without burdening taxpayers. That said, today is just the start of the conversation, and I look forward to ensuring the state budget is in the best interest of my constituents and all Pennsylvanians.
“I’m pleased to see an investment in our workforce. The governor has proposed raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour, providing education and training opportunities in the manufacturing industries and investing in grants that focus on job training and economic development. These proposals align with the Senate Democrats’ commitment to putting Pennsylvanians back to work.
“Consolidating four important state agencies into a Health and Human Services Department will be a strenuous task, but if we want to balance the budget, these creative proposals must be explored. In the coming weeks, it’s important that we examine how these services can be streamlined without affecting the quality of service for Pennsylvanians.
“Governor Wolf’s plan to close a state prison will also help consolidate corrections services while easing the current deficit. This, combined with other cost-savings measures in the Department of Corrections budget, is consistent with reductions in the prison population. I’m committed to help find other ways to continue to see a reduction in the prison population and in recidivism through second-chance legislation and programs that educate and train offenders to prepare them upon their return to society.
“Despite these tough fiscal times, the governor continues to show his commitment to investing in education. His budget proposal makes modest but key increases in basic education, high-quality preschool programs, and special education. I’m disappointed that the budget does not contain a charter school reimbursement line item, which is critical to ensuring that our children and families have quality education choices.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be participating in budget hearings and meetings as we move toward the June 30 state budget deadline. I look forward to examining the governor’s budget proposal further and having bipartisan discussions on the best ways to balance our budget and ensure that important programs and services are properly funded.”