This budget represents how we have worked together to build a stronger Pennsylvania. Because it’s not about how much we spend, it’s about how we invest precious tax dollars back into the people of Pennsylvania and our commonwealth’s future.
We must be good stewards and ensure that every dollar we invest in this budget has a purpose. We must continue to push the boundaries of reform, and make our state government more effective in the use of tax dollars.
Together, over the past three years, we have done just that, and next month we expect to reach a milestone: half a billion dollars in net savings, from ingenuity and reforms, across state government.
This commonwealth is the sixth-largest economy in the United States. And we’ll be running at full strength as long as we concentrate on three priorities, a great education for every child, a private sector where every business large and small can grow and hire, and a healthcare and human services system where everyone has choices and everyone is covered.
Let’s begin with education. Every child in this state should be, ready to learn.ready to grow, ready to succeed, and my budget sets an agenda in that spirit.
Education is the largest single item in my budget. The increase I propose would bring direct state support of public education to $10.1 billion, more than 40 percent of state spending.
That reflects additional money we’ve devoted to our schools during my time as governor, which comes to almost $1.55 billion.
Early in my administration, of course, we were faced with the problem of the vanishing federal stimulus money. It had been used to pay for education, and when it was gone there was nothing left in the General Fund to fill the gap. But with every great challenge also comes great opportunity.
We have a responsibility to give the children of this state a 21st Century education, and over the past three years we have worked every day with thousands of parents, teachers and administrators from across this state to ensure that we drive each and every dollar into education that meets the needs of the children of Pennsylvania.
Through targeted initiatives, we have worked to increase accountability and transparency in our schools, infused stronger educational resources into our classrooms and focused financial resources on supporting students at all levels. This budget will continue to support these strong reforms.
Each of our 3,000 schools now has a School Performance Profile, so that parents and communities have all the basic facts. If a school has problems that are setting children back, that’s something parents and communities need to know.
And when everything is going right in a school, and students are doing great, we want to know that, too, so the best can become the standard for the whole state.
As former teachers, my wife, Sue and I have been visiting schools all across the commonwealth. It’s been an uplifting experience, to return to the kids and the classrooms and feel the enthusiasm in our schools.