Senator Vogel Lauds Budget Commitment to Agriculture

The Senate today (June 27) approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 that reaffirms Pennsylvania’s strong commitment to farming families, according to Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

House Bill 790 also includes no tax increases, provides funding for essential services, promotes workforce development efforts, bolsters education spending at all levels and makes a substantial investment in the state Rainy Day Fund.

HB 790 maintains Senate Republicans’ commitment to Pennsylvania’s farmers by restoring all of the Governor’s proposed cuts and increases the overall appropriation to the Department of Agriculture by 13 percent to $19.5 million. This additional money includes:

  • Increases for Ag Research/Ag Extension and the University of Pennsylvania School for Veterinary Medicine.
  • New funding – Agricultural Business & Workforce Investment, $4.5 million; Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, $2 million; and, Livestock and Consumer Health Protection, $1 million.

“I am extremely pleased by this budget and with the passage of the Farming First legislative package over the past two days,” Senator Vogel said. “Robust state funding makes a real difference in ensuring that agriculture remains at the top of our state economy. Beyond that, the new money this year will help promote innovation in the industry and ensure the health of our livestock. These are great investments that will pay significant dividends.”

Final revenues for Fiscal Year 2018-19, which ends on June 30, are anticipated to be $865 million over projections, with an ending balance of about $300 million. All of that money will go into the Rainy Day Fund, which covers financial shortfalls in the event of a dip in the economy.

“This is a smart move,” Senator Vogel said. “It would have been easy to spend that money, but it is much more responsible to put it away for a time when it is truly needed to prevent a budgetary crisis.”

HB 790 also promotes workforce development and job training initiatives by:

  • Increasing funding for Career and Technical Education by 7.6 percent ($7 million) from $92 million to $99 million.
  • Increasing funding for Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants by 117.6 percent ($3 million) from $2.5 million to $5.5 million.

Additionally this year’s budget makes important investments in local communities through worthy programs that Senator Vogel strongly supported such as:

  • Increasing funding for libraries by 9.2 percent ($5 million) from $59.5 million to $64.5 million.
  • Increasing the funding limit for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) from $25 million to $40 million.

The budget also increases state support for all levels of education. Basic Education funding is increased by $160 million and special education will see a $50 million increase.  

HB 790 increases spending to support early education with Pre-K spending increasing by $25 million, HeadStart receiving a $5 million increase, and Early Intervention services receiving a $15 million increase.

Higher education institutions will also benefit from this budget with an across-the-board 2 percent increase in funding for community colleges, state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) and the State System of Higher Education.

The budget continues Senate Republicans’ ongoing efforts to protect Pennsylvania’s students and school staff by restoring the Governor’s $15 million cut to the Safe Schools program administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (back to $60 million) and increases the Safe School initiative under the Department of Education by $1 million to a total of $11 million.

Contact:          Charlie O’Neill            (717) 787-3076          coneill@pasen.gov