Shapiro signs into law bipartisan budget, ending long impasse

Citing a “commonsense budget,” Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law Thursday afternoon a bipartisan budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. 

Agreement on the $45.5 billion appropriations bill (HB 611) ended an impasse dating to the original June 30 deadline. 

The Shapiro Administration said that the budget delivered on the governor’s priorities of creating a stronger economy, safer and healthier communities, and better schools. The 2023-24 budget invests in children’s education, supports businesses in part by accelerating permitting, helps other adults remain in their homes, strengthens and protects communities, and seeks to make certain law enforcement and first responders have needed resources. 

Shapiro also plans to sign into law on Friday an expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate, aimed at easing the burden of rising costs on Pennsylvania seniors. 

“The people of Pennsylvania have entrusted me with the responsibility to bring people together in a divided legislature and to get things done for them – and with this commonsense budget, that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Throughout my campaign and in my first budget address, I laid out a vision for how the commonwealth could create real opportunity and advance real freedom for all Pennsylvanians. 

“With this budget and the expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate, we’re making good on that promise by delivering the largest targeted tax cut for our seniors in nearly two decades, creating real opportunity for our workers by expanding vo-tech and apprenticeship programs, supporting our state troopers and local first responders, and making historic investments in our kids and their schools. This is what it looks like when government works together to make Pennsylvanians’ lives better.” 

Lieutenant Gov. Austin Davis said the bipartisan budget addresses Pennsylvanian’s desires for state legislators to “take off the red and blue jerseys” and put on a Pennsylvania jersey. 

“This budget addresses the most pressing issues facing our communities and delivers real results for the people of Pennsylvania,” said Davis. “It’s a direct investment in making our economy stronger, our communities safer, our schools better and our families healthier.” 

Shapiro line-item vetoed the full $100 million appropriation for the PASS scholarship program.

Highlights of the budget include:

  • Largest increase in basic education funding and historic investment in Pennsylvania schools. 
  • Investments in community and economic development. 
  • Investments in Pennsylvania agriculture. 
  • Increasing access to apprenticeships and vocational and technical education. 
  • Improving Pennsylvania’s permitting and licensing processes. 
  • First-time funding for indigent defense. 
  • Repairing infrastructure and supporting law enforcement. 
  • Investments in mental health, addressing maternal mortality, and supporting EMS and health care providers.

The latter has been criticized by the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA), which issued a press release Thursday morning stating that the budget’s focus is education funding, leaving seniors and adults with disabilities and those requiring specialized nursing care to be overlooked. Health providers across Pennsylvania have warned legislators that a lack of funding could lead to a collapse of the state’s long-term care system.

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) on Wednesday night called the Senate back to session at 1 p.m. Thursday to “negotiate in good faith” and finalize the bill.

Signing HB 611 will provide the necessary funding to schools, counties, and organizations completing 75% of the budget,” Ward stated. “The remaining 25% of the budget requires legislation to authorize expenditures. Gov. Shapiro has provided us the necessary assurances to guarantee the monies for those programs will remain untouched until the legislature has finalized the language.”

PA Lt. Gov. highlights Shapiro Administration’s investments in workforce in Tec Centro visit

Investments in workforce development, technical training, and apprenticeships highlighted Lt. Gov. Austin Davis’s visit Thursday to Tec Centro SW in Lancaster. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposes to increase funding by $23.8 million to build partnerships between career and technical education and industries, trades and entities seeking skilled workers. 

“The governor and I want to make Pennsylvania a leader in innovation, job creation and economic development,” Davis said in a statement. “If we’re going to address the workforce shortages facing our communities, we must empower Pennsylvanians to pursue their dreams, no matter what they may be. 

“That’s why the Shapiro-Davis budget invests more into apprenticeship programs, expands vo-tech and brings career and technical training back into the classroom, to give students that freedom and help prepare them for the future.” 

A provider of bilingual education and skill training for those who are unemployed and under-employed, Tec Centro operates two workforce centers in Lancaster and one in Reading. The Tec Centro centers in Lancaster train more than 1,200 workers. 

Tec Centro plans to open a facility in Lebanon this summer, one in York later this year, and another in Harrisburg in 2024. 

State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El said the proposed budget increase in partnerships between education and industry will build an information bridge between workers, educational institutions, and industries. 

“Workers will know what skills they need to get the jobs they want; educational institutions will design programs that teach workers the in-demand skills they need to thrive; and businesses will be able to fill their talent pipeline with highly skilled workers,” said Smith-Wade-El. “This is a smart and necessary investment in our people, our communities, and our industries that will pay dividends in the years to come.”