Senator Brooks Supports 2016-17 State Budget

This week Senator Michele Brooks supported the on-time 2016-17 Fiscal Year Budget that provides additional funding for education and agriculture, along with new money to fight the states’ opioid and heroin epidemic.

During his February budget address, the Governor asked for more than $3 billion in new spending over Fiscal Year 2015-16 levels.  However, the General Assembly was able to significantly reduce that number and continues to work to stop personal income and sales tax increases.

Instead of increasing spending by over $3 billion, we need to continue our efforts to make things more efficient and cut waste and costs.  In this spirit, Senator Brooks will be partnering with her colleague, and Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, Mike Folmer, to have a working group on identifying additional cost savings and ways to reduce fraud, which only increases costs for law abiding citizens.

The budget provides significant investments in education that include additional money for basic education ($200 million), early childhood education ($25 million), special education ($20 million) and Head Start ($5 million).

In addition to education, agriculture, our number one industry, also received an increase in funding.  These line items include the agricultural programs we value here at home, like co-operative extensions, 4H and Future Farmers of America.  Understanding our farmers face difficulties on a daily basis beyond their control to provide food for our families, it is so important to preserve our family farms for future generations.  “While I successfully worked with my colleagues over the years to eliminate the inheritance tax on our family farms, I continue to work towards eliminating lineal heir and sibling inheritance taxes.  I firmly believe, along with the people here at home, that the inheritance tax is double taxation”, said Senator Brooks.

In order to combat the growing tragedy of opioid and heroin addiction that touches families of every socioeconomic sector, $15 million in new funding was included in the budget for emergency addiction treatment and behavioral health services.  Said Senator Brooks, “I may be showing my age, but I think we can all say we never thought heroin would ever be an issue in our hometown communities.”

The Budget passed in an overwhelming bipartisan manner in the Senate by a vote of 47 to 3 and is now on the Governor’s desk for his consideration.

Contact:          Diane Helbig                           (724) 588-8911

dhelbig@pasen.gov