Governor Tom Wolf 2020 Budget Address


The General Assembly will come to order the governor is now entering the hall of the House members and guests Please rise The escort committee is encouraged to come up to the rostrum Mr. President mr. Speaker members of the General Assembly as chairman of the committee to escort the governor I wish to report that his Excellency the governor is present and as a parent as prepared to address this joint session Governor, thanks Thank you very much thank you, please be seated you Know my my mother used to sit over there for these things And the first time she heard someone introduced me as his Excellency. She said, you know, I used to change his Excellency’s diapers Anyway time changes lieutenant, governor Federman speaker Turzai president Scarnati leader corpsman leader Corman leader Cutler leader Dermody members of the General Assembly Invited guests friends and family and especially my wife Frances Thank you very much and my fellow Pennsylvanians a Couple hours drive east to here near the corner of Crown and Highland streets in Morrisville, Pennsylvania There’s a plaque marking a spot where more than 300 years ago, William Penn Finalized his first purchase under the Charter. He’d been granted by King Charles the second And today you can stand there and marvel at what William Penn must have been envisioning on that pivotal day After all, he wasn’t just there to buy some land. He had something bigger in mind a Holy Experiment in self-government a place where Penn’s deeply held values of individual freedom Social justice and boundless opportunity could form in his words the seeds of a nation When we talk about William Penn we talk about his faith We talked about his wisdom. We talk about his selflessness We talk about his humility But I also think he deserves some recognition and some credit for his imagination after all here We are still striving towards that same vision of a Commonwealth where anyone can build a better life Anyone can come here anyone can do what they need to do this year. I believe we have an opportunity to make enormous progress Towards delivering on that promise After five years of tough decisions and Necessary investments. We all have guided our Commonwealth out of crisis and put Pennsylvania back on a path to prosperity But we have a long way to travel The work ahead of us will call upon our determination our creativity and our courage But because we cannot build what we cannot envision today We can begin by imagining a Pennsylvania that we can create together Not for some far-off future generation, but for the people we came here to serve right now So imagine the Pennsylvania where no one no one is too a chance to work because they can’t find childcare Or they can’t find transportation Imagine a Pennsylvania where when we send our children out the door in the morning We don’t have to worry about whether they’ll come home safe and when we send our kids off to college We know they can focus on finishing their degree instead of worrying about how they’re going to pay for it Imagine a Pennsylvania where our air and a water are cleaner or the cost of prescription drugs is lower Or the most vulnerable among us are protected and everybody Everybody has the right and the opportunity to participate fully in our economy and in our democracy These are not pipe dreams This is our playbook. And if anyone here is having trouble imagining that we can build that, Pennsylvania Just look at what we’ve done already together We’ve rescued our public school system by investing more than a billion dollars in pre-k through 12th grade education We’ve banded together to fight the opioid crisis and last year for the first time We saw a reduction in the number of overdose deaths We reformed our pension system Thank you We’ve we’ve reformed our pension system our electoral system our criminal justice system We did all of that on a bipartisan basis. We’ve done that together We found new ways to empower our manufacturers our farmers our military families our small businesses and most of all our workforce and Today there are more Pennsylvanians working than ever before Just to look around the chamber right now five years ago this budget process was an exercise in masochism We all came here We all came here bracing ourselves for the painful choices We knew we’d have to make in order to play the hand. We were all dealt Today I present to you a budget that reflects a renewed sense of confidence in Pennsylvania’s future This budget is a blueprint for unleashing a new wave of prosperity for our Commonwealth It will make a tangible difference in the lives of millions of people and folks we can actually do this together Because this budget does not ask any of you to vote for any new taxes Nor does it ask any of you to join me in any wild Ideological crusade it merely asks that you join me in imagining what this Commonwealth can offer to each of its people I’ve asked a few of those Pennsylvanians to let me share their stories with you today And I’d like to start by telling you about Neishmairy Ruiz Neishmairy has overcome a lot in her life. She’s experienced homelessness domestic violence incarceration But she never lost her commitment to building a better life for herself and her two children And upon visiting a career linked in Bucks County she earned she enrolled in the earn program and There she got the one thing she needed most an opportunity After just two months as a machine operator, and she was one of the only women on the floor Neishmairy was promoted to supervisor And now she’s been able to move her family into an apartment She doesn’t just have a job. She has a career and this is the kind of success story That should be possible for every Pennsylvanian no matter how old you are or where you start The Neishmairy’s story is not unique Last year we brought Labor business and government To the table as part of a public-private partnership called the Keystone economic development and workforce command center Their mission was to answer one simple question What is standing in the way of? Pennsylvanians who want to find good jobs The answer had nothing to do with the opportunities being offered by our businesses It had nothing to do with the work ethic of our people either Instead they heard stories a lot of them like Neishmairy’s In fact the command center highlighted five specific things that they heard in five specific areas where we can take action the availability of reliable transportation the affordability of child care the challenges of re-entry our outdated licensure requirements and gaps in workforce training it’s frustrating to imagine that someone might lose out on their opportunity to get ahead because of something as ordinary as bureaucratic red tape or a simple lack of bus routes Frustrating and also stupid if we care about our economy But the good news is that these are solvable problems in Fact this budget contains a blueprint for making progress towards overcoming each of these five obstacles To address the lack of access to transportation that makes so many Pennsylvanians commutes difficult or even impossible we can work with employers to help them be more flexible in meeting the needs of their workers and by joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative we can raise hundreds of millions of dollars in auction proceeds to make our air cleaner and our transit system stronger so that Pennsylvanians can get to the jobs businesses are creating When it comes to childcare we need to start with cost Balancing career and family is already hard We should not allow it to be prohibitively expensive as well So my budget includes additional funding for childcare that will stabilize rates all across the Commonwealth and that’s just the start We need more employers to offer Family-friendly workplace policies like on-site childcare and we need more childcare providers to offer their services to the growing number of parents working non-traditional schedules evenings weekends overnight this budget contains financial incentives for both meanwhile, we can continue to cut the red tape that prevents people from starting businesses and reverse outdated policies that stand in The way of people restarting their lives after serving time in prison We can invest in workforce training programs like wednet, PA Which has helped more than 20,000 companies train more than a million Pennsylvania workers over the last 20 years we should protect all workers and Finally erase the stain of legal discrimination against LGBTQ workers in Pennsylvania No one no one should have to hide who they love to keep a job They love let’s makes that let’s make this the year. We finally finally pass this legislation The goal of all, this is not just to get more Pennsylvanians into jobs It’s to give more Pennsylvanians the opportunity to work toward the brighter future they imagined for themselves and so while we’re going to continue to foster an environment that continues Entrepreneurs continues to encourage entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses right here in Pennsylvania We also need to face the fact that minimum wage workers in this Commonwealth have not had a raise in more than a decade This isn’t fair And What’s more it isn’t smart? forcing people who were full-time to get by on $15,000 a year Doesn’t just limit what they can build for themselves and their families it limits what they can contribute to our shared prosperity That’s why 21 states have already increased their minimum wage this year alone Nobody out works the people of Pennsylvania They deserve the same fair wage. Let’s make 2020 of the year. We’re going to get them that race I believe in the potential of our people and if you ever find yourself doubting that potential Just talk with students at one of our colleges and universities Like Jacob Foil-Charles right here Jacob. Where are you? There you are Jacob is a student at Mansfield University Jacob is a double major in biology and music. He’s also an orientation leader. He’s an accomplished singer and performer Jacob do you ever sleep? Yeah, okay Anyway growing up in Tioga County in a middle-class family Jacob always knew he wanted to go to college, but he also knew they’d have to hustle to pay for it He’s applied for a variety of grants and scholarships to help with tuition But he also has to pay for room and board and textbooks So he’s working multiple jobs adding another 20 to 25 hours a week to his schedule schedule Recently things got even harder Jacob’s federal student aid ran out because he’s reached what they call the maximum timeframe for the program While he’s appealing that decision He’s had to dip into his family saving at a time when his mother is struggling Now we all know Jacob is going to go places But imagine how much further he could go and how much further so many students in our Commonwealth could go if the cost of higher education Weren’t such an incredible burden Imagine what it would mean for a Commonwealth for our economy and our communities we need to act so we’re gonna start with a 60 million dollar investment so that we can increase the size of our state tuition grants that serve more than 130,000 students, but we can’t stop there I’m proposing a historic 200 million dollar investment in scholarships For the young Pennsylvania’s attending our state system universities that will mean 25,000 patients like Jacob and get a degree without a crushing debt and we’ll do And We’ll do that by repurposing existing tax dollars that are right now flowing into the horse Racing Development Fund Let’s spend on our kids instead of bankrolling race horse owners and ensure the viability of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education This new scholarship program is inspired by a young woman a Pennsylvanian of modest means who had to drop out of what we now know as Indiana University of Pennsylvania After her father passed away. She could no longer afford to go there She never got her degree and she wound up having to move at a state to start her career Her name was Nellie Bly Nellie didn’t let that stop her she went on to become a pioneering journalist Responsible for bringing reforms to our mental health system in the twenty 20th century But more than 100 years later We still see too many of our young people forced to drop out of college or forced to move away from, Pennsylvania Or forced to begin their lives buried under a mountain of debt And that’s why the Nellie Bly scholarship will pay for what other financial aid does not cover so they can spend more time Contributing to our Commonwealth and less time paying off debts and by incentivizing them to state. Thank you And By incentivizing them to stay in Pennsylvania after graduation. We can all reap the benefits of their intellect and their creativity We all have a stake in the success of young Pennsylvania’s like Jacob Let’s give them every opportunity to fulfill that potential By the way, let’s not wait until college to start. In fact, let’s not even wait until they get there first loose teeth this year I’m calling for the expansion of universal no-cost full-day kindergarten so that it’s available for every child in our county I’m asking all of you to work together to make Universal full-day kindergarten a reality The joy of raising children comes from imagining who they’ll become What they’ll achieve and where they’ll make their mark? There is an apparent in this chamber who doesn’t want every opportunity every opportunity For their children and there isn’t a parent anywhere in this Commonwealth who should have to settle for anything less That’s where people like Thomas Parker come in Thomas Parker is the superintendent of the Allentown school district And he knows firsthand just how much potential there is in our children But he also knows the obstacles that stand in the way of unleashing that potential For a long time the number one obstacle was simply that Harrisburg didn’t share the same commitment to our kids that parents and teachers do And that’s why over the last five years all of us have fought together To restore more than a billion dollars in cuts to our public school system But we must do more This year. I’m calling for four hundred and thirty five million dollars in new investments starting with one hundred million dollar increase in the fair funding formula an Additional 25 million dollar increase in funding for special education and a 30 million dollar increase for high quality early childhood education and we expect results all of us expect results on these investments and There’s an important role for charter schools to play an offering parents choice and providing a source of competition and innovation That can benefit all students no matter what they attend But as you know, too many charter schools here in the Commonwealth have strayed from that purpose Some are a little more than fronts for private management companies and the only innovations they’re coming up with Involve fighting finding new ways to take money out of the pockets of property tax payers like setting up sham online schools Or exploiting a loophole in special education funding in Thomas’s district in Allentown They’re projected to pay more than sixty million dollars in charter school tuition fees this year that’s nearly twenty percent of their budget and Because many of these charter schools fail to deliver on the promise of a better education for their students Many of those students who attend their charter schools end up coming back to the public school system except now they’re behind their peers Our church charter school system is in desperate need of reform. It’s time to close the loopholes It’s time to establish real standards and it’s time to level the playing field By doing so we can continue to provide parents with real choices We can empower charter schools to focus on their mission of innovation and we can save two hundred and eighty million dollars Each year, and we can put that money right back into improving our public school system So, how can we do this well one thing we can do we have an updated teacher pace since the 1980s Let’s finally give him a raise. We’ve got women and we have got Women and men working for a wage a minimum wage that was set back when I actually had hair It’s a long time ago and by the way many of them are working in buildings that were built before I was even born Indeed just as there’s no excuse for failing to support the women and men in our classrooms There’s no excuse for the condition of some of those classrooms themselves For example Thomas’s district has 19 school buildings that predate 1950 and all across our Commonwealth children will tomorrow morning walk into school buildings loaded with lead paint asbestos and other dangers We know that environmental factors directly affect student performance, and we know how to fix this problem But we also know how things tend to work around here for the past two years my administration Scraped together what funding we could and we did what we could to help address these problems but if we keep doing what we’re doing that means many schools won’t make the cut and those students will just Keep on being exposed to dangerous contaminants, and we say to schools of leaders like Thomas. Well, maybe next year no business would choose to address such a pressing crisis in such a Cavalier fashion and No parent wants to hear that there just wasn’t room in the budget to make sure her child is breathing clean air or drinking clean water That’s why it’s time to stop playing numbers games with our children. So instead of chipping away at this problem bit by bit Let’s make 2020 of the year. We act decisively to repair our school infrastructure my budget calls for a 1 billion dollar investment 1 billion dollar investment in fixing toxic school buildings and Streamlining the process to allow school districts to apply for this funding Let’s give leaders like Thomas the resources they need to succeed and let’s make sure that every parent Who sends their kid off on the bus this September can spend less time worrying about mold and lead and asbestos And more time looking forward to finding out what their kids have learned when they get home There’s more in this budget. We need to add staff capacity at our Department of Environmental Protection I’m calling for legislative action to address gaps in pipeline safety We need to ensure that communities are protected when a state facility closes And we need to make investments in advanced manufacturing and in the arts Meanwhile, the work continues on long-standing priorities like fighting the opioid epidemic and reforming the criminal justice system Like changing our probation process and in the coming weeks I will bring to you a healthcare reform plan that will address the high cost of prescription drugs Protect consumers and empower more families to make decisions about their futures without being held captive by their health insurance So I have ambitious plans for this year, and I know that the politics of the moment Dictate that some of you go out into the hall after this and talk about the parts. You might think are too ambitious But none of us came to public service to prove that better things aren’t possible we’re here because we believe that we can envision and achieve a brighter future for the people we serve I look at Neishamairy Jacob and Thomas and I’m reminded of the potential of our people and the brilliant future that awaits us if we can continue building towards William Penn’s vision of a Commonwealth that opera offers opportunity to all But there’s an empty seat here in the chamber Right over there and I’d like you to imagine Erie’s Elijah Jackson sitting in that seat He’d be 21 years old today Perhaps training to serve our country in the Air Force just like he always imagined His mother Vanessa is here told me that Elijah loved to dance We’d love to play basketball and he loved to make his brothers and sisters laugh He wasn’t just the life of every party. He was the life of his family Vanessa remembered one day in particular His junior year in high school when he said actually he was going into his junior year in high school sat on her lap Said that once he graduated joined the military he would take care of her. That’s the way Elijah was Unfortunately a few weeks later on a hot July night Elijah went out to meet his younger cousin and some friends after a game Someone driving down the street in an SUV had a gun and started shooting Someone else had a gun and started shooting back Elijah and his friends were caught in the crossfire Turns out it was something that had nothing to do with Elijah Nothing to do with any of his friends Turns out the gun that killed Elijah Didn’t even belong to the person who pulled the trigger, but rather to a veteran suffering from addiction Turns out there were so many weapons involved in so many shell casings found that it was hard to prove exactly who had fired the shot that happened to hit Elijah Jackson and The case against some of the defendants even fell apart What it all adds up to is the same story. We have seen repeated time and time again an Innocent Pennsylvanian is robbed of a future. That should have been their birth rate The family is robbed of a loved one and all of us are robbed of the contributions Someone like Elijah Jackson might have made to our Commonwealth We have no way of quantifying what we lost when Cecil and David Rosenthal were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue or when Gerard Kozik died while sheltering his wife from a hail of bullets at a municipal meeting and Her losses are not limited to the horrific acts of mass violence that make the news they happen every day a trans woman like Tamika Michelle Washington is murdered in the kind of attack far too common in the trans community a Decorated veteran like sergeant Russell croup takes his own life a tragedy far too. Common among his fellow service members There’s an empty chair in this chamber and There’s an empty chair at the dinner table of too many of the people not just these families That many of you elected to serve in this chamber whether a family member was shot in their neighborhood or someone you loved Used a firearm to take their own life. I understand that unimaginable tragedy is just part of life, but when it comes to gun violence We have gotten to the point where these kinds of tragedies are no longer unimaginable at all We’ve gotten used to seeing bulletproof backpacks advertised during back-to-school sales We’ve gotten used to hearing our young children talk about the traumatic lockdown drills. They had to endure between science class and recess we’ve gotten used to that little worry that creeps into the backs of our minds whenever we enter a shopping mall or a sports stadium or even a house of worship and Unfortunately, we have also gotten used to hearing politicians offer their thoughts and prayers and little else It’s part of the ritual now right alongside the somber press conferences where law enforcement officials detail the carnage and The tearful testimonies from friends and family grieving over their lost loved ones so the question is Why can’t we act why haven’t we tackled this like other states? Have I? Know that across the Commonwealth there are law-abiding responsible gun owners and that there are those deeply concerned about the Second Amendment and I do support their right to be hurt when it comes to gun safety reform and if you’re one of those law-abiding responsible gun owners all I ask of you is this Imagine that it’s your gun that’s stolen from the house from your house by someone who is neither responsible nor law-abiding Imagine it’s your gun that through no fault of your own Gets resold to someone who couldn’t pass a background check Imagine it’s your gun. That winds up in the hands of someone who intends to use it to harm himself or others Can you honestly say that you don’t care just as much as anyone else about making sure that that doesn’t happen All I ask of you is this Imagine that it’s your Municipal Building, it’s your synagogue. It’s your neighborhood pool that suddenly becomes the symbol of this crisis Imagine that it’s your child who doesn’t come home from a party from a concert or from school can you honestly say that you don’t believe there’s any way to protect both your family and The Constitution and when it comes to the people here in this chamber Who have no intention of coming to the table on this issue whether out of ideological conviction or political calculation? Well, you have a right to your opinion – but let me ask you something Can you look at your family and honestly say that you wouldn’t do anything pay any price to protect them Can you look at Vanessa Baylin or? Any of these families in the eye and tell them that their families were not worthy of the same Can you look at the empty chair in this chamber and say that you’ve done enough to stop this epidemic? We know that gun violence has become a public health crisis, and we know what the solutions are We know that universal background checks work We know that stronger reporting requirements for lost and stolen guns Keep guns off the street we know that red flag laws keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or to others and We know that making our schools safer is not just about metal detectors and armed guards at the door, but about counselors and social workers Inside the building to help kids who are struggling Now I know there is no law that can eliminate every act of gun violence But the steps I’m proposing are supported by the evidence and supported by the vast Majority of Pennsylvanians, we can pass them tomorrow and by doing so we could make our Commonwealth safer So I hope the Legislature will join me at the table on this To let another session go by without action would be a failure of imagination that will cost lives Let’s make 20/20 of the year We choose to stop being cynical about the politics of gun violence and let’s start to address the reality of gun violence Let’s make 2020 the year we act My fellow Pennsylvanians This year’s budget offers us a chance to make our workforce stronger to make our schools better and to make our communities safer But more broadly it gives us an opportunity to do what William Penn did under that oak tree all those years ago We have the chance to look around this beautiful piece of the world and imagine what it could become in our lifetimes in The lifetimes of our children and in the lifetimes of our grandchildren William Penn imagined a holy experiment and self-government Benjamin Franklin imagined a constitutional republic and a free press Francis Harper imagined an America free from slavery Rachel Carson and Gifford Pinchot imagined the potential of our environment William Wilson and Mother Jones imagined and won rights for workers Andrew Carnegie imagine new ways to build prosperity bayard Rustin and Edie Windsor, imagine people free of discrimination and Fred Rogers imagined all of us caring for our neighbors today we can take our place on that Honor Roll by imagining a Pennsylvania that works for all of its citizens a Pennsylvania where no problem about the cost of health care about the challenge of rebuilding our schools that the scourge of gun violence No problem is too big for us to come together and solve The Pennsylvania were the old failures in the old divides give way to new potential and new opportunity Let’s imagine that bright future on the horizon and Let’s walk toward that future together. Thank you

10 thoughts on “Governor Tom Wolf 2020 Budget Address

  1. May I ask how this will help ? I myself have a been a single mother, and without the help of my child's father or family was supporting my daughter on my own. Being a groom in the RACEHORSE industry is what made that possible, there are numerous single parents and whole family's that depend on this.. numerous people will not have any way of making an income of this happens. Not to mention that the slaughter price for horses is extremely high right now, and big bodied racehorse who's owners no longer have a means to support them would end up going right to slaughter… in what way will this be a good idea ? This will be putting thousands of family's without a job or way to support themselves..
    This also even cary's on to the farmers that supply the feed/ supplies for the horses you will cut them off also, leaving even more people without work or means to support themselves..

  2. Hands down worst governor we have had. He is even willing to impose gun control makes him an unconstitutional twat. Gun control does not prevent crime it takes them away from the hands of gun owners. But that's what the democrats want us to be lined up to go to the slaughter for the all mighty leader. I will be glad when this dipshit is out of office.

  3. Bad guys will always find guns and use them for evil, gun reform does not stop them. Metal detectors in schools and armed security solves problem.

  4. I won’t comply with your Bloomberg funded bullshit. My gun will be where it has been for years. Another do nothing Democrat

  5. I am from Florida but I visit PA often and I got to say you people need a new governor you got too many taxes thanks to your democratic governors

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