Governor Wolf delivers 2019 budget address focusing on workforce, education

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf delivers his 2019 budget address cutting straight to the chase.

"This proposal asks for no new taxes," said Gov. Wolf.

While there are no new taxes, Governor Wolf is asking for $927 million more in a $34 billion general fund budget. With a promise to grow the economy and invest in the workforce, Gov. Wolf proposes a statewide Workforce and Education Accountability Program. Under that new program, a command center with agency secretaries would be formed, meeting every week to take a deeper dive into the struggles and successes of the state workforce.

"We need to know where there is a problem right away so we can fix it," said Gov. Wolf. "If a labor union is having trouble establishing a training program because of antiquated procedures, then we need to fix it."

When it comes to education, more than $900 million of the budget would go toward pre-k through 12th grade education. The dropout age would rise to 18. The required school start age would lower from 8 to 6-years-old. A study would be launched into universal, free, full-day kindergarten. And, the minimum starting salary of teachers and education professionals would be raised to $45,000 per year, through a fully funded mandate.

"They just want safe schools to work in,  support from administrative staff," said Gov. Wolf. "A fair wage for the important work they do. That's not asking a lot."

Republican leadership's response to the budget proposal was overwhelmingly positive. However, State Sen. Joe Scarnati says when it comes to the workforce, more must be done to lessen the burden on businesses by lowering the corporate net income tax, which is currently at about 10 percent.

"It is a detriment, it drives business out of here, it keeps investment from out of here," said Sen. Scarnati. "We can do that responsibly. We can do that and as we lower that tax, corporations and businesses will invest in Pennsylvania."

When it comes to raising teacher's salaries, republican leadership said they would need to talk about it with the governor.

In passing the budget, republicans are optimistic both parties will be able to come together and get i passed by deadline in June.

Reads the governor's full budget address here.

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