|By PR Newswire||
|February 4, 2009 11:25 AM EST||
Helping Taxpayers; Investing in Student Success
"One of the most immediate steps we can take to help Pennsylvanians in difficult economic times is to keep property taxes from rising further," said Governor Rendell. "That's why my budget will boost state funds for public schools by
In addition to making a substantial increase in the basic education subsidy, the 2009-10 budget sustains
The Governor's budget also will help families that are struggling to meet the rising costs of college.
To achieve this, the Governor has proposed the Pennsylvania Tuition Relief Act, which will provide critically needed college tuition assistance to
For families with incomes under
To pay for this program, the Governor proposed that the commonwealth enact legislation to legalize video poker and tax its proceeds. Other states have successfully generated hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue using this approach.
"Despite what some might think, I do not view the legalization of video poker as the first step in an attempt to expand gaming in
"Rather, what I propose is to take control of this industry, so that we can remove unscrupulous operators, establish strict new regulations and tough penalties for those who fail to obey the law, and generate needed revenues. At a time when families desperately need to find a way to reclaim their children's college education, I challenge anyone to justify why we should deny this relief to our fellow citizens."
The Governor's budget also includes a
Both of the Governor's higher education proposals will enable 20,000 additional students to seek college degrees - even in these hard economic times.
In addition, the Governor's budget doubles capital funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to
The budget also continues Governor Rendell's annual commitment of
Expanding Health Care, Support for Families
Governor Rendell's proposed budget will continue his efforts to improve the availability of health care for working Pennsylvanians. This budget increases health care spending by
Administered by the state Insurance Department, adultBasic covers the basic healthcare needs of Pennsylvanians age 19-64 who have no health insurance and who meet certain eligibility requirements.
The Governor has proposed expanding the adultBasic program to provide affordable basic health insurance for more of the uninsured, the vast majority of which are employed. Most of the working uninsured have full-time jobs and many are employed by small businesses. Most earn low wages and do not have access to health insurance because of the high cost of premiums for both businesses and individuals.
Health care coverage under the expanded adultBasic program will be offered through private insurance companies and will include coverage for prescription drugs. The proposal will increase the number of low-income Pennsylvanians with state-supported health care insurance by 50,000 - from approximately 40,000 at the end of fiscal year 2008-09 to an estimated 90,000 by the end of 2009-10.
The total state and federal cost for the expanded adultBasic program is projected to be
The expanded program will begin providing health care coverage to new enrollees on
To enhance the health of
The Governor also highlighted his administration's continuing efforts to help older adults receive needed support services in their own homes rather than live in a nursing facility - an option that is considerably less expensive to taxpayers. He has proposed consolidating the Department of Aging and the Office of Long-Term Living into a single entity. Doing so, the Governor said, will enable the state to provide more and better options for tens of thousands of adults with physical disabilities and older Pennsylvanians, supporting them with needed programs and services while providing opportunities to live independently and grow old with dignity.
Strengthening the Social Safety Net
In times of high economic stress, Pennsylvanians need help. This budget reaffirms the commonwealth's commitment to preserving the safety net for
To assist families with rising energy costs, the Governor has proposed maintaining increased state funding for the primarily federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, in the amount of
A record number of low-income Pennsylvanians are relying on LIHEAP to stay warm this winter. In the first two months of the program year, nearly 331,000 families have received cash grants - an increase of more than 122,000 families over the same period a year ago. In addition, almost 67,000 low-income families have avoided a heating emergency through the crisis grant program, an increase of more than 6,500 families from the previous program year. While these trends partially reflect increased funding and expanded eligibility limits, they also reflect the growing number of Pennsylvanians who need help to heat their homes.
The budget also provides an additional
Keeping Food on Pennsylvanians' Tables
At the Governor's direction, the Department of Agriculture is working with state and federal partners to better use funds and available food items to supply the state's food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
With the new budget's additional
Expanded Help for Veterans
The Governor's budget will strengthen support for veterans by providing
Improving Services to Jobless Pennsylvanians
Governor Rendell recently directed that call-in hours for unemployment compensation be extended to accelerate and strengthen assistance to Pennsylvanians who have lost their jobs. The state's toll-free phone number, 1-888-313-7284, now operates Sundays from
Customers are reminded the fastest way to get information or file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits is online, 24 hours a day, at www.dli.state.pa.us.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.
CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
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