Feb 7, 2024 - Politics

Pennsylvania Gov. Shapiro proposes historic budget increases

Gov. Josh Shapiro

Gov. Josh Shapiro unveiled his 2024-25 budget. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a budget Tuesday that calls for historic funding increases to the state's public education and transit systems, plus renews calls to hike the minimum wage and legalize recreational marijuana.

Why it matters: Shapiro's proposed $48.3 billion spending plan for 2024-25 is a 6.2% increase over last year but doesn't raise taxes and spends only some of the state's surplus, maintaining it at about $11 billion.

Driving the news: Shapiro said during an address that his top priorities are fixing the state's broken schools and ensuring Pennsylvanians have reliable public transportation.

  • His plan calls for an additional $1.1 billion in basic education funding, including nearly $900 million in first-year "adequacy investment" to ensure more equity across all districts.
  • The budget proposal would also pour $282.8 million into the transit systems — an increase of 1.75% — including $161 million for SEPTA.

Zoom out: The governor's emphasis on public education comes after a commission found the state must invest $5.4 billion in K-12 over the next seven years to close the education gap.

Details: Shapiro proposes $300 million in "sustainable" funding to address aging school buildings as districts work to modernize and upgrade facilities, including eliminating asbestos and lead.

  • The estimated $247 million boost would provide fiscal stability to the Philly school district, per the district. The district faces a massive budget shortfall without any increase in state funding.

Zoom in: Shapiro's budget includes the first increase in the state share of public transit funding in more than a decade, and would generate $1.5 billion over five years by increasing the sales tax allocation.

  • While SEPTA faces a $240 million shortfall when federal pandemic funding ends in July, the funding in the budget could eliminate the need for the transit agency to increase fares and decrease service if adopted, Shapiro said.

What they're saying: "We need to compromise. We need to give a little to get anything done," Shapiro said during his address.

The intrigue: Shapiro said Pennsylvania is losing out on $250 million in revenue every year it doesn't legalize adult recreational marijuana.

  • $5 million would be earmarked for restorative justice initiatives, plus the criminal records of those arrested for marijuana-related offenses must be expunged, Shapiro said.

What we're watching: Will there be a delay in adopting the budget? A budget impasse dragged on for months last year amid a divided government.

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