July 14, 2016
Governor Tom Wolf signed a $31.5 billion dollar revenue package yesterday that balanced the 2016-17 state budget. The revenue package, House Bill 1198, passed the House of Representatives by a 116-75 vote, followed by a Senate vote of 28-22.
The budget will prioritize the educational needs of children across the commonwealth. The state will see significant funding increases supporting children from birth to high school graduation. The Basic Education Funding line item will increase by $200 million. Combined with the Ready to Learn Block grant, this brings the total increase over the last two years to more than $400 million. Last month, in a year of an unprecedented budget stalemate, Pennsylvania’s Legislature passed historic legislation creating a fair formula for the distribution of Basic Education Funding.
The Pre-K Counts program will receive an additional $25 million, a ten percent jump, and Head Start Supplemental will will receive an additional five million dollars, an 11.3% increase. Special Education will go up nearly two percent, with an additional $20 million, and Early Intervention programs will see an extra $10 million, a 4.3 % increase.
The commonwealth budget benefited from increases in federal funds for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as required by the Affordable Care Act and protected in the CHIP funding legislation passed in 2015. The legislative decision to streamline CHIP and Medicaid programs led to increased administrative efficiencies. Together the state saved more than $5 million this year from CHIP, while serving children in need of insurance.
The revenue package includes a $1 per-pack tax increase on cigarettes; a 40 percent tax on wholesale cost of e-cigarettes ($430 million); a tax on digital downloads, or apps ($47 million); wine sales in supermarkets; a one-time tax amnesty program ($100 million); and a $200 million loan. It also anticipates $100 million from expanding gambling in PA.
Click here to see the budget in its entirety.