– While Gov. Josh Shapiro last week signed the General Appropriations bill into law, Rep. Bud Cook (R-Greene/Washington) is reminding area residents many challenges and more work remain to complete the annual state budget process.
“As elected members of the Legislature, we have a collective responsibility to adopt a state budget to ensure essential programs and services are properly funded and can continue to meet the needs of our residents,” Cook said. “We also have a responsibility to ensure that budget is balanced and responsible to the taxpayers of this Commonwealth.
“The Shapiro administration and majority House Democrats are failing on both fronts.”
Cook noted that while the signing of the General Appropriations bill will trigger distribution of state funding to school districts, local governments and various service providers, the Legislature has not yet adopted a series of “code bills” that direct how some state funds can be sent. As a result, funding for things like public legal defense, housing and aid for poorer school districts will be withheld until further action is taken.
“Code bills tend to be the most complicated and time-consuming element of adopting a budget each year, but the folks in charge have done little to no negotiation on these bills yet,” Cook said. “Those negotiations will be even more difficult this year because of the lack of trust between the governor and the Republican majority in the Senate.”
In early July, the governor and Senate Republicans reached agreement on a budget bill that included $100 million in funding for a new scholarship program to support students in the state’s lowest-performing schools. When it was clear he couldn’t convince members of his own party to support the initiative, which he repeatedly supported during his campaign, the governor broke the agreement, as well as his promise to parents and students looking for help to attain a quality education.
“While I am generally pleased to see agencies and service providers get the money they need to serve our citizens, I remain deeply concerned about this state budget and its long-term impact on the taxpayers who pay for it,” Cook said. “This plan spends more than we anticipate collecting in revenues, which sets us up for a tax increase in the near future. That’s why I opposed the budget bill and will continue fighting for more reasonable and responsible policies.”