Rep. Kinkead: A breakdown of this year’s state budget
Photo: Office of Rep. Kinkead
How are state tax dollars spent in Pennsylvania? That question is answered every year, typically during the month of June, when the state House, Senate, and governor work together to craft a budget to determine exactly how taxpayers’ money is spent over the coming year.
While this year’s budget debates were rocky to say the least – with the Republican majority threatening essential funding for state universities and passing the first step to amending our state Constitution to restrict abortion rights in the middle of the night amid the final hours of budget debate – we did walk away with a budget that many legislators on both sides of the aisle hailed as a major victory for Pennsylvanians.
Though a little late (our state budget is generally due by June 30), on July 8 we passed a $45.2 billion budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. I am happy to report that this budget finally spends the bulk of the unprecedented surpluses we have seen in revenue — including billions that were still remaining from the federal American Rescue Plan funds — the way we should: benefitting working families through unprecedented investments in education, new economic development programs, school safety, and so much more. We did leave some money on the table and could have gone further in many ways, but overall, I’m pleased with the result of this year’s budget negotiations.
By far the best provision in this budget is the historic increase for public education. From pre-k through college, Pennsylvania schools will receive $1.8 billion more than last year. School districts in Allegheny County will collectively receive an additional $54.7 million.
To zoom in to the local level, schools in the 20th Legislative District will receive the following approximate increases over the previous year:
- Pittsburgh Public Schools – $4 million.
- North Hills School District – $1 million.
- Northgate School District – $300,000.
Additionally, every school district in Pennsylvania will receive $100,000 plus $15 per student for mental health initiatives, and $100,000 plus $15 per student for school safety initiatives.
These investments in our schools are critical to ensuring future generations of Pennsylvanians receive a high-quality education in a safe and supportive learning environment – one of my top priorities as a state legislator and a key factor in why I voted for the budget.
The budget wins for working families don’t end with education investments; this year’s budget also saw the start of a Pennsylvania child care tax credit program that will mirror the existing federal program. This credit will be available for claim when filing taxes in 2023 – more information on eligibility requirements is forthcoming.
Another exciting aspect of this year’s budget is the creation of the Whole-Home Repairs program, which will allow income-eligible homeowners to apply for grants of up to $50,000 for repairs and updates to their homes. The new program may be the first of its kind in the nation – and it grew out of legislation introduced by my fellow Allegheny County lawmaker, Rep. Sara Innamorato! I was a proud co-sponsor of her bill and was overjoyed to see the program receive $125 million in budget funds for its pilot year. This is an enormous step toward combating property blight and creating more affordable and accessible housing in the Commonwealth. Stay tuned – I’ll have more updates and details on this program throughout the rest of the year.
Property tax relief is another highlight of this year’s budget. Homeowners and renters who are already receiving aid through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program will now receive a one-time additional payment equivalent to 70% of their original rebate amount. For example, someone who received the maximum refund of $650 will get a bonus payment of $455 this year. If you’re unfamiliar with PTRR, contact my office – you may be eligible for money back on your property tax or rent payments.
At times — including during these budget negotiations — the partisanship in our politics is beyond frustrating for elected officials and most Pennsylvanians; this divisiveness can leave all sides more than a little angry. We too often spend time on things that could harm, rather than help, Pennsylvanians. But I think that across the board, this is a budget of which every Pennsylvanian can be proud and from which every Pennsylvanian will benefit.
And remember, you can contact my office for assistance with any state-related matter. Just email [email protected] or call our district office at 412-321-5523. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – my team and I are eager to help you in any way we can.