HARRISBURG – State Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Allegheny/Westmoreland) voted “no” on passage of House Bill 790, the General Appropriations bill, which spends almost $34 billion.
After a lengthy discussion, the House passed the state budget by a 140-62 vote, Brooks issued the following statement:
“Our foremost priority with this budget was one that works for the taxpayers. We promised not to raise taxes and this budget does not reflect any additional tax hikes or hidden fees. While I am pleased with that aspect of this plan, I do feel as though it includes too much spending.
“This budget isn’t bad, but it spends a lot more than I believe is sustainable without future tax increases. If I could have voted for pieces of the budget, that would have been ideal. Those portions I agreed with include an increase in education across all levels – basic, special and early childhood. School districts in the 54th District will see increases between 1.7% and 2.6%. This is below the statewide average of 3.1% and that means our taxpayers are paying some costs of other poorer school districts due to the state distribution formula.
“I support the basic education funding increase by $160 million. In past fiscal years, the funding increase was set at approximately $100 million. I was pleased to see career and technical education receive additional money in the budget, so we can train more individuals for today’s in-demand jobs. As an advocate for increasing special education funding, it is great to see an additional $50 million provided. Also, higher education was increased by 2%.
“Another area I agreed with is an additional $25 million for the expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. The EITC program provides tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to a scholarship organization, an educational improvement organization, and/or a PreK scholarship organization. This tax credit will offer a scholarship program and school choice.
The 529 Education Savings plan It has been extended from covering higher education expenses to also include tuition for PreK-12. This is a great benefit to all families.
In addition, a total of $60 million for school safety is included in this budget, which I support. It should be a priority to make sure our students feel safe so they are able to learn. They should be able to focus on learning rather than fearing for their safety.
“Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s No 1 industry, so I appreciate the need to make a significant investment in this area. In total, agriculture is seeing a $19.5 million, or 12.8%, increase.
“I am happy that this spending budget makes great investments in our future. The economic growth our Commonwealth is enjoying reflects not only our vision but the policies of President Donald Trump. The economy is growing nicely, family-sustaining jobs are on the increase and the unemployment rate has dropped. This adds up to more money in your pocket, greater state tax revenue and less welfare costs.
“Overall, I just couldn’t give this budget – my very first one in the House – my approval. Increases in spending are just too high.
“I will continue on your behalf to work on the Finance Committee to hold taxes from increasing, and on the Commerce Committee where my focus will be on the economy’s wellbeing.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
To view Brooks remarks, visit: youtu.be/F2bedaBjs_8
Representative Bob Brooks
54th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner
717.260.6437 (office), 717.497.8478 (cell)