Governor Wolf’s Budget Goal: Create ‘Strongest Workforce in the Nation’

| February 6, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. – With the Commonwealth on a comeback, Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday outlined in his 2019-20 budget address a bold plan to move the Commonwealth forward by building the strongest workforce in the nation that drives the strongest economy.

“Today, I present a comprehensive plan to help grow our economy by continuing to invest in our workforce,” said Governor Wolf.

“This plan calls on contributions from the business community, labor unions, educators, research institutions, students, parents, and adult workers.”

A core component of the governor’s plan is the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, which brings together agency heads and public and private sector experts in an approach to finding solutions that connect skilled workers with good jobs that employers need today and in the future.

The governor’s budget expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and partners with the private sector to build on the PAsmart initiative, launched last year as a groundbreaking approach to workforce development.

Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center

Soon the governor will sign an executive order creating the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. The departments of Community and Economic Development, Labor & Industry, State and others will partner with external leaders to find solutions that will strengthen our workforce.

Early Childhood Development and Parent Support

The proposal provides $5 million to expand home-visiting programs for pregnant women and at-risk infants and toddlers, $15 million in federal funds to reduce waiting lists for high-quality childcare, and $5 million for wrap-around services so parents can attend college or other training to get skills for family-sustaining jobs.

Continuing Investments in Education and Career Training

The budget provides increases of $200 million for basic education, $50 million for pre-k and Head Start, $50 million for special education, $7 million for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and $8 million in one-time grants for community college students or graduates who are working in Pennsylvania.

PAsmart connects Pennsylvanians with education and training opportunities, apprenticeships, and STEM careers and the governor’s budget expands this initiative with an additional $4 million to help Pennsylvania manufacturers train workers and $6 million to expand career and technical education for adults.

To prevent students from falling behind, the governor’s plan lowers the age when students must start attending school from 8 to 6 and increases the dropout age from 17 to 18. The administration will also study the benefits of providing free full-day kindergarten to all children starting at age 5.

Pennsylvanians can find out more about Governor Wolf’s budget at

James Says Governor’s Budget Proposal Misses Mark on Economic Policy

On Tuesday, State Rep. Lee James (R-Venango/Butler) issued the following statement after Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his annual budget address:

“The governor’s focus on minimum wage jobs while taxing good-paying energy sector jobs out of the Commonwealth is misguided.

“Raising the minimum wage will not help the middle-class families that are struggling to make ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck. I believe we should focus on policies and programs that encourage hard-working Pennsylvanians to learn more so they can earn more. We want to attract good-paying jobs to the Commonwealth and give Pennsylvania workers opportunities to grow, advance and earn higher wages.”

“The governor’s plan to tax natural gas harvested here in Pennsylvania will threaten good-paying jobs. We want to attract good-paying jobs, not chase them away with targeted tax hikes. The current state fee on natural gas helps fund programs and services across the Commonwealth. Enacting a tax on top of the existing natural gas fee would drive jobs out of Pennsylvania.”

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I look forward to participating in the budget hearings that will dig into the details of the governor’s proposal during the next several weeks. We will review his proposal, look for alternatives and develop a responsible spending plan that represents the priorities of the Commonwealth.”

Public hearings by the House Appropriations Committee on the 2019-20 spending plan begin on Monday, February 11.

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