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Governor Wolf delivers final budget address

The governor plans to continue his ongoing efforts to help Pennsylvanians by furthering investments to support families, learners and our workforce.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf’s eighth and final budget proposal would push state spending well past $43 billion for the first time, as the Democrat asks lawmakers for the biggest-ever increase in aid for public schools, plus more money for direct care workers, higher-education institutions, and college scholarships.

Wolf delivered the $43.7 billion proposal to lawmakers Tuesday before he was to address them in a joint session of the House and Senate.

An economy juiced with federal pandemic subsidies is expected to deliver a multibillion-dollar surplus.

Given the state’s big cash cushion, Wolf is proposing no change to state income or sales taxes.

"I offer this last budget proposal more confident in their future than I have ever been, and more excited than I have ever been to help build it," said Gov. Tom Wolf.

Gov. Wolf's final budget address was more like a farewell speech, touting his administration's successes over the past seven years.

The $43 billion spending plan is the biggest the state's ever seen. It includes a $2 billion surplus while Wolf reminded lawmakers that the state was $2 billion in the hole when he took office in 2015.

The proposed budget includes more money for school districts such as the Scranton School District, which have been traditionally underfunded by the state. Another $2 billion would be distributed to schools using the Fair Funding Formula, a proposal lawmakers in Harrisburg have yet to adopt.

"We can afford to invest a whole lot more in the Fair Funding Formula without raising one penny in state taxes. And we can afford to do it without asking any school district, anywhere in Pennsylvania, to sacrifice one penny in state funding. Let's not waste this opportunity."

Wolf is also asking for an increase in the state's minimum wage going from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour this year with annual increases until it reaches $15 an hour.

"We are literally surrounded by states that are giving minimum wage workers a better deal. This is embarrassing. And just like school funding, refusing to address the problem won't make it go away."

The budget proposal also includes a cut in the corporate income tax

Wolf's budget will now have the challenge of passing through a Republican-led legislature, so the final plan will likely have lots of changes.

The new budget, if passed by the general assembly on time, takes effect on July 1, 2022.

Watch the governor's budget address on the WNEP YouTube channel:

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