Folks, let me tell you something: if being a plumber and union business manager taught me anything, it taught me about being responsible for the finances of others. It taught me to invest in yourself, your trade, your people, and your community. Every year, Pennsylvania’s budget is a statement of who we are and what we want to be. Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal is exactly what our 9th Senate District needs to keep moving forward.
Our Governor wants to look forward and plan for our future. Investing in public education, including basic and special education, is crucial for giving our students the opportunities they need to learn and grow. As the husband of a teacher with a daughter also in the profession, I understand the importance of this issue.
Unfortunately, many students are falling through the cracks despite the best of intentions from educators. That’s why it’s so important to not only invest in bettering our classrooms but to also invest in career/technical education and workforce training programs. This ensures that residents of District 9 and our Commonwealth have the skills they need to succeed in today’s world.
As someone who was able to take up a trade that changed my life, I know firsthand the opportunities trade schools can provide. In fact, investing in trade schools and technical education may be more important now than ever.
According to the Federal Reserve, the national student loan debt has reached a staggering $1.7 trillion. Meanwhile, many trade school graduates are earning incomes comparable to or even higher than those of their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees. For example, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the median income for someone who attended a trade school is $35,000, which is on par with the median income for all bachelor’s degree recipients.
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On the heels of the pandemic, we’ve all seen the importance of supporting our children’s mental health. That’s why I’m thrilled that Pennsylvania’s budget includes new funding for mental health support for students and staff. With a child mental health crisis on the rise, it’s crucial that we invest in resources to provide the care and assistance that our children need to thrive.
Additionally, the proposal includes funding for subsidized childcare, which can help working parents access the care and support their children need to grow and succeed. This is a direct investment in the well-being and futures of our children. We are also helping adults with mental health issues, with $29 million in new targeted funding including $5 million in funding to help build out the 988 Mental Health Assistance program.
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Pennsylvania’s budget proposal goes beyond expectations by investing in historically disadvantaged businesses and providing financial assistance for workforce training. This investment is crucial for the economic growth of the region, especially in the City of Chester, located in District 9, which has a history of economic struggles.
My District office is situated at the heart of the City of Chester, and I am fully committed to its revitalization and encouragement of future economic development. Investing in cities during economic downturns is essential for the well-being of Pennsylvanians. By investing in our communities, we can create new opportunities for businesses and workers, helping to strengthen our local economies and ensure a brighter future for all.
Let’s talk farmland investments — and let me tell you, farming is huge in the 9th district! And with over 25 percent of Pennsylvania consisting of farmland, farmland investments are crucial for maintaining our agricultural heritage. This includes our land in Chester County, and ensuring it continues to be the economic pillar of opportunity for its residents.
The mushroom industry is a major contributor to our region’s economy. Kennett Square and Chester County are known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” providing over 68 percent of the world’s mushrooms. Here in the 9th, we have more than 50 family-owned commercial mushroom farms that operate within 25 miles of Kennett Square.
Farmland preservation is essential for Chester County and our Commonwealth to continue providing jobs and economic growth. Without it, the mushroom industry would suffer. As someone who has come to enjoy mushroom soup as much as the next person, I know the stakes we’re up against.
Pennsylvania’s budget proposal includes funding for emergency services, which is crucial for the safety and well-being of all constituents, residents and visitors. In my time as a Senator, I have sat and met with countless Fire Stations, Emergency Responders, Police Forces and so many more who are in dire need of necessary funds to provide their community with the protections from disasters that can strike at any moment. We all want to feel safe in our communities, and to do that, these services need to be a priority.
Governor Shapiro’s budget is the real deal, like a plunger for all problems Pennsylvanians face. With this budget, we can flush away the old and embrace the new, ensuring our Commonwealth thrives without getting in the way of progress.
Senator John Kane represents the 9th senatorial district, including parts of Chester and Delaware Counties.