Schools, 4-H, Master Gardener program finally get funded by state

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania public schools and Penn State Extension can breathe a sigh of relief after funding was freed by inaction of the governor.

Governor Tom Wolf Wednesday announced he would neither sign nor veto House Bill 1801. That means the bill which will restore funding for schools, universities, hospitals, corrections and agriculture without any new or increased taxes becomes law.

Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. (R-Blair) reacted to the news, “I’m glad that the people most affected by the governor’s repeated vetoes can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will finally receive the funding they need to finish the fiscal year.  Schools in danger of closing will be able to stay open, critical access hospitals considering cuts to services and staff will be able to maintain their level of care, and programs facing elimination, such as Penn State Extension, will be able to continue assisting the agriculture community.”

In addition to regular state funding to public schools, programs in danger of shutting down in May included 4-H and Master Gardeners, both very popular in Franklin County.

House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) applauded the governor’s decision.

“Working together, in a bipartisan fashion, we put a balanced budget on the governor’s desk to close out the current fiscal year, and the governor is letting it become law. We are investing in education by increasing basic education funding by more than $200 million and boosting higher education funding by 5 percent, without placing a heavier burden on taxpayers,” said Reed.

“This budget includes a 7.8 percent increase in agricultural programs, notably in the areas of ag research, Penn State Extension, 4-H Program and the University of Pennsylvania Center for Infectious Disease. Child advocacy centers, critical access hospitals, regional cancer centers and burn centers would also see their state allocations restored.”

Both Eichelberger and Reed expressed confidence in future budget talks.

We will begin work immediately on next year’s budget as well as some of the important issues everybody is talking about:  reforming the liquor and pension systems, as well as bringing real property tax relief to homeowners,” said Reed.

“But most importantly, the budget crisis is over and schools will remain open, much to the relief of families, teachers and administrators across the Commonwealth.”

Eichelberger said, “I hope the governor has learned a lesson from the painful mess that he caused and will not hold the people of Pennsylvania hostage again as we continue work on the 2016-17 budget.”