Pennsylvania’s governor rolled out his spending plan for the coming fiscal year, and that plan calls for building up the Commonwealth’s economy.
Tuesday morning, Gov. Tom Wolf outlined his $34 billion state budget that would increase teachers’ pay, raise the minimum wage and create a “Stay in PA” incentive program for community college graduates.
Wolf said he wants to work to make lives better for hard-working Pennsylvanians who “have made substantial sacrifices in recent years to help get our state up off the mat.”
The state’s top official is looking to bolster an economy that nearly flatlined 10 years ago, and wants to increase the minimum pay for teachers from $18,500 per year to $45,000 per year.
However, that increase comes as a cost of $13.8 million while school spending would increase by $200 million in a budget that calls for an overall $1.4 billion increase over last year.
The heavy spending budget doesn’t stop there. Wolf wants to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12. The governor estimates that would save the state $36 million in reduced costs of safety net programs.
Essentially, if workers are earning more money, they won’t need government assistance such as SNAP.
Wolf’s creation of the “Stay in PA” program would hand over $2,500 in one-time grants should community college graduates stay in the state after graduation.
This would eliminate the escapism Pennsylvania has experienced over the past two decades as college graduates, and even high school graduates, flee the state for more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.
The governor is on the right path to boosting the state’s economy, which has seen growth over the past few years, but not enough growth.
Two other factors that could boost the state’s economy and create a healthy general fund would be a tax on the natural gas industry — one that has been shot down in the past — and a tax that could be created if recreational marijuana is approved for usage by Pennsylvanians.
The governor has the right idea to bolster the economy. The ideas are solid and sound.
Now, let’s see if they can be put in place.