HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - This afternoon, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro signed a $45 billion budget for fiscal year 2023-24, putting an end to the month-long budget impasse.  

Late last evening, Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) called senators back to Harrisburg to finalize the state budget today. The Senate approved the budget this afternoon and sent it to Gov. Shapiro. 

The agreement to move forward comes as many school districts, counties and organizations began raising financial concerns over the impasse. With Shapiro’s signature, the Treasury Department can begin sending checks, putting many of those concerns to rest. 

“This was a bipartisan budget. Senators, Representatives worked together with me to get this across the finish line and the good people of Pennsylvania are the big winners,” said Gov. Shapiro in an interview with Erie News Now shortly after signing the budget. 

Shapiro says the commonwealth is on track for a stronger economy, safer communities and better public schools. Public schools will see a $567 million increase in basic education funding. 

“That increase was a historic increase, meaning more money going to public schools than ever before in Pennsylvania,” said Shapiro. 

In addition to school mental health and special education funding increases, $46.5 million will ensure universal free breakfasts to Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students, regardless of income. 

“No child in Erie, or anywhere else, will have to learn on an empty stomach,” said Shapiro. 

The governor’s signature came with a line-item veto of a $100 million private school voucher program, a major factor in the budget impasse. Shapiro still supports the concept and hopes lawmakers can find agreement on it in the future. 

“I support it and I believe this is unfinished business that the legislature needs to work on,” said Shapiro. 

Senate Republicans remain disappointed with the removal of the voucher program. However, they’re glad to see the $45.45 billion final budget spends approximately $400 million less than what Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed in March. 

“Today is a good day for Pennsylvania taxpayers because we have ensured certain programs and initiatives will not be funded without further action by the General Assembly,” said Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41).  

Pittman calls the progress today a significant step forward, but says the job is not finished. 

“The General Appropriations Bill advanced by the Senate is a significant part of our overall budget process, but it needs to be emphasized that it is one piece of a multi-piece puzzle to put a comprehensive budget in place for our commonwealth,” he added. 

“Today’s action will ensure critical state funding can be distributed to counties, schools, service providers and other key programs throughout the state,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Scott Martin (R-13). “Our goal remains to complete a fiscally responsible budget without creating disruptions in the lives of the people we represent,” Martin added. 

Although the heavy lifting appears finished, over $1 billion remain tied up in code bills. The House, which is now back to an even 101-101 split, and the Senate, will need to return to pass the code bills to drive out remaining dollars. 

According to the Budget Secretary, funding for certain programs are on hold until lawmakers provide the legislative language necessary. The programs include: 

  • Covid-Relief-ARPA-School Mental Health Grants 
  • Criminal Indigent Defense 
  • Emergency Medical Services Rate Increase 
  • Hospital and Health System Emergency Relief 
  • Level Up Supplement 
  • Teacher Stipends 
  • Whole Home Repair 

Other budget framework initiatives that require enabling legislation to implement include: 

  • Environmental School Facilities 
  • Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Increases 
  • Rainy Day Transfer Amount 

Both chambers are not expected to return to the Capitol until September. You can find more about the fiscal year 2023-24 state budget here.