HARRISBURG – Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) today voted in support of a $32 billion state budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The proposal includes no new or increased taxes and represents a spending increase of less than 1 percent over the current fiscal year.
“In another challenging budget year, we were able to find common ground in our efforts to fund the core functions of government, including education and public safety, while also keeping spending in check,” Causer said. “While there are always things I might do differently, this plan includes a number of things that are positive for our region and the Commonwealth as a whole.
House Bill 218 increases funding for basic and special education, as well as for early childhood education programs, such as Pre-K Counts and Head Start. While higher education institutions are primarily funded at the same level as the 2016-17 budget, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will see a 7.8 percent increase in its direct appropriation to $2.76 million.
The measure also provides continued support of nearly $7 million for Critical Access Hospitals, which supports access to health care in rural areas.
Another important element of the budget is that it includes funding for increased payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) on Department of Conservation and Natural Resources forest land. The increase from $3.60 per acre to $6 per acre was approved as part of last year’s budget negotiations but was not scheduled to take effect until July 1.
“The funding to support the PILT increase is vital to ensuring more appropriate compensation to our municipalities, school district and counties for state-owned lands, which are not subject to property taxes,” Causer said. “This is very good for our rural communities and the taxpayers who live here.”
The bill adopted by the House and Senate on Friday is a key component of the annual budget process, but work remains on a number of budget-related bills that lawmakers hope to take up next week.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler