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Friday, July 15, 2016

Baker Says 2016-17 State Budget Invests in Schools, Health Care Historic investments in education require NO broad-based tax increases

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania General Assembly this week approved several budget-related bills that were signed into law to finalize implementation of the 2016-17 state budget, announced Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter).

“The 2016-17 budget, which spends $31.6 billion, makes an historic investment in education,” said Baker. “I am pleased we were able to do this while still bringing down the governor’s original budget spending plan by $2 billion and getting him to take off the table any broad-based taxes on working men and women in the form of a Personal Income Tax or Sales and Use Tax increase.”

The final budget invests $250 million more in PreK-12 education, which includes $200 million more for basic education, $25 million more for Pre-K Counts, $5 million more for Head Start and $20 million more for special education.

Schools within the 68th Legislative District will see the following basic education increases:

Canton Area School District – $123,516
Troy Area School District – $ 137,929
Northern Tioga School District – $247,842
Southern Tioga School District – $176,148
Wellsboro Area School District – $172,546
Galeton Area School District – $57,698

Baker noted that in addition to significant increases in education funding, health care also benefits under the new state budget.

The budget allocates $15 million to combat heroin and opioid addiction, including funds for emergency addiction treatment and behavioral health services.

“In order to further address the state’s growing opioid addiction problem, the governor has also agreed with our call to hold a special session of the Legislature when we can deal exclusively with this matter through new legislation,” said Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee. “This special session, which is rarely done, will allow us to focus our efforts on legislation to address this singular issue.”

Another important health care initiative which will receive funding is West Nile Virus and Zika Virus Control, which will receive increased funding of $1.4 million, for a total of $5.3 million.

The budget also restores funding that was eliminated by the governor for a number of key health programs, including regional cancer institutes, Lupus, trauma prevention, Epilepsy support services, bio-technology research, Tourette Syndrome and ALS support services.

Critical access hospitals will also benefit under the new budget by receiving an additional $1.3 million in funding, which includes money for the newest facility to join the group – Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro.

“Critical access hospitals serve some of the state’s most rural areas,” said Baker. “In our area of the state, we already have two such facilities that serve residents – Troy Community Hospital and Charles Cole Memorial Hospital – and now Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital will join the list of critical access hospitals.

“I am pleased health care-related programs and services were prioritized within the 2016-17 state budget,” concluded Baker.

For more information on the budget, go to www.pahousegop.com/201617budget.aspx.

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