Justin Simmons today joined with a bipartisan majority of the House to pass a 2016-17 state budget proposal that increases education spending and meets the state’s rising obligations to pensions and Medicaid without any new or increased broad-based taxes.
The budget proposal also provides another historic investment in public education, including a $200 million increase for basic education, and a $50 million increase for special education, Pre-K Counts and other important programs.
The legislation sets total spending at $31.55 billion, with the vast majority of the increase going to meet mandated increases, such as pensions, Medicaid, corrections and the state police.
“In reality, while this budget spends more, it does so to meet the state’s mandated obligations. It is the responsibility of the legislature to pay the state’s bills, and that is what we have done,” said Simmons. “I believe there is much we can do to stem the growth of spending in Pennsylvania, but shirking our financial obligations would be both irresponsible and only worsen our fiscal situation.”
Simmons also pointed to this year’s budget as a warning sign about actions that the legislature must take to better protect taxpayers in the future, including actions he has long supported.
“The fact is that the vast majority of this budget increase goes to pay for a public pension system that must be fixed, and a Medicaid system that will continue to grow in cost due to the Governor’s decision to expand it through ObamaCare,” Simmons explained. “I have long been a proponent of comprehensive public pension reform, and opposed expanding ObamaCare in our state because of the billions of extra dollars it will cost in the long run. We must address these issues now to protect taxpayers in the future.”