Benham releases statement on Pa. budget

Applauds governor’s promised veto of private school vouchers

PITTSBURGH, July 5 – Following passage of the state budget today, state Rep. Jessica Benham issued the following statement:

“As a kid with a developmental disability, I was a child failed by our public schools, a victim of school pushout. My dad was a public school teacher, and I know I was not failed by teachers, paraprofessionals, or other staff – no, I was failed by elected officials who repeatedly – year after year - refused to fully and equitably fund our public schools. The fight for public education funding is personal to me.

“With the governor's assurance that he will line-item veto the private school vouchers out of this budget, the budget will make meaningful increases to public education funding. Our schools deserve even more, and our responsibility is nowhere near complete. Nevertheless, we have made significant progress with this budget – the largest spend on public education in the history of the commonwealth, with both of the school districts I represent, Brentwood and Pittsburgh Public, receiving significant increases in funding.

“This budget also contains important funding increases to mental health, public safety, violence prevention, the Whole Home Repairs program, childcare, workforce development, and more. I wanted to see investments in school facility improvements, and even more investments in violence prevention, disability supports and services, and services and supports for kids, young people and their families, among other programs. Still, I appreciate that this budget continues to move our commonwealth forward, while knowing that we have much farther still to go to fully meet our obligation to those who rely on state programs and funding. I’m still committed to fight for continued improvements to existing programs and for the creation of new programs to help our communities, throughout the 2023-24 session.

“I voted yes on this budget. While it does not contain everything I wanted to see, no budget ever does, and this budget makes meaningful progress toward meeting the needs of my constituents. Furthermore, I firmly believe this is the best deal we are going to get from the Senate, whose leadership have already suggested that if we had sent this budget back to them amended, they would have stripped out increases to line items that are important to our community. I look forward to the governor's line-item veto of the private school vouchers, which was a major sticking point in this budget.”