HARRISBURG, June 30, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding Senate passage of a $31.96 billion state budget for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year. 

“I was glad to vote for a responsible 2017-2018 state budget today.  The budget reflected in the amended HB 218 recognizes the fiscal constraint the Commonwealth continues to face and represents a less than 1 percent increase in spending over our previous fiscal year.”  

“This budget retains necessary investments in public education – and in particular, in early childhood education – and in essential services to persons with intellectual disabilities as suggested by Governor Wolf in his executive budget in February.  Further, this budget restored deep cuts which had been proposed in a prior House version of the budget and protected the continuing – and critically important – missions of our Departments of Agriculture; Conservation and Natural Resources; and Community and Economic Development.  

“Also very important were restorations to support our County human service programs, probation and parole programs as well as our public health nurses.  In addition I was pleased to see proper state support for our Heritage Parks Program; our Regional Cancer Institute; and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.  Finally, I was glad to see restoration of the Institutional Assistance Grants program which supports students seeking higher education in Northeastern PA and support for our Military Community Enhancement Commission which works to protect jobs at Tobyhanna Army Depot and other defense-related installations throughout the state.”

“Our work is not done, however, as we must still take up the necessary work of ensuring a constitutionally-required balance in this budget.  To effectuate this 2017-2018 budget we must return to Harrisburg next week to conclude our debate and legislate a remedy on the Local Share gaming issue which was subject to a recent Supreme Court ruling.  Further we must conclude our various legislative code bills including the Administrative, Welfare, Fiscal and School Codes and ensure sufficient revenue will meet the agreed-to budget of nearly $32 billion dollars.  Upon the expected approval by the House of Representatives, Governor Wolf will have ten days to act on this budget.  Between then and now the General Assembly must provide him the additional legislation necessary to inform his action.”

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