HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro gave his first budget address on Tuesday, March 7.
Shapiro spoke for nearly 90 minutes, longer than most, and his list of budgetary requests was also long.
Shapiro noted the unusualness of the day as he entered through the rear of the chamber. He was also introduced by the first Black lieutenant governor and addressed the first woman speaker of the house and the first woman president pro temp of the Senate.
“And nothing gets done unless a majority in her [McClinton] chamber, and in her [Ward] chamber, agree,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro wants to get a lot done, including a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.
“This feels like a fight that has gripped our politics for so long, that some people are entrenched on. The other side doesn’t even know why they’re opposing Pennsylvania workers anymore,” Shapiro said.
For Shapiro, enough is enough.
The newly-elected governor declared Pennsylvania open for business by proposing to eliminate state taxes on cell phone bills, continue to reduce corporate net income taxes, and invest in women and minority entrepreneurs.
“Whether folks in this room like me or not, the one thing I hope you can all agree on is that I’m competitive as hell, and I’m sick and tired of losing out to other states. It’s time to compete again here in Pennsylvania,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro promised to cut red tape in licensing and permitting but also mentioned workers’ right to unionize as well as funding more inspectors to protect workers’ rights.
“To those employers who lobby against this funding, I have a simple question, what are you afraid we might find when we investigate?” Shapiro said.
The proposed $44.5 billion budget would spend $2 billion more than the current fiscal year.
Shapiro also wants free breakfasts for all public school students and hopes to dedicate $1 billion more to K-12 public schools, a historic number.
The budget proposal also allocates $500 million over five years to rehabilitate public school buildings and build infrastructure for students’ mental health needs.
“So that schools can fund mental health counselors and services on-site at every school,” Shapiro added.
There’s more money for counties to help those with disabilities, money for farmers ravaged by avian flu, and money to give teachers, nurses, and cops a state tax rebate.
Shapiro knows many will call his proposal too costly. His response?
“We’re prepared to weather a storm should it come. And we can afford to make critical investments for the people of Pennsylvania right now.”
A budget address is simply a wish list, and in the coming months, we’ll see which of Shapiro’s wishes come true. The state’s official budget is due June 30.