Gov. Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Prioritizes Education, Income

Gov. Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Prioritizes Education, Income

By: Sara Warden

2 min read February 2020 — Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf focused his 2020-21 budget on education and income, proposing an increase in spending of almost 6% to $34 billion over the fiscal year, including $600 million to cover cost overruns. Republicans criticized the heavy reliance of the budget on the assumption that revenue would grow by 4.5% ($1.6 billion) over the period. The proposals also require borrowing funds. “It’s easy to put things on a credit card and then ask other people in the future to pay for it,” said Republican State Representative Stan Saylor. “That is not the solution for Pennsylvania.”

 1. There will be no major tax increases

Instead of tax increases for citizens, several novel approaches were proposed in the budget to fund services, one of which was a state police fee based on number of incidents and coverage area. Wolf estimates the initiative will bring in $136 million to fund police services. Another way taxes could stay flat is by imposing a tax on the Marcellus Shale natural gas field to be placed in a $4.5 billion infrastructure fund. Based on 2019 production, Wolf believes the tax would generate more than $600 million per year.

Sweeping changes will be made to charter school funding

Wolf proposed a reduction in the obligatory payments school districts must make when one of their students decides to attend a charter school, which would save districts $280 million annually, according to the governor. “Our charter school system is in desperate need of reform,” Wolf said in a sharp rebuke of the charter school system. “It’s time to close the loopholes. It’s time to establish real standards, and it’s time to level the playing field.”

2. Revisiting previous proposals.

The Wolf administration wants the state to increase basic education spending by $100 million and special education by $25 million. He wants all school districts to offer full-day kindergarten, shifting 22,000 students who attend half-day programs into full days. He wants budgets on the whole for Pre-K to be increased by $30 million, most of which will be allocated to the state-run Pre-K Counts program. Finally, he proposed an increase in the state’s minimum teaching salary from $18,500 to $45,000, impacting 3,000 teachers. 

3. Higher minimum wage is high on the agenda

Wolf’s government has always championed higher minimum wages but has been met with stiff resistance. The governor wants to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 per hour on a gradual basis. The current minimum wage is $7.25, which he proposes should be increased to $12 this July and every consecutive year by $0.50 until reaching $15 in 2026.

Another issue the governor addressed was gun reform, which is unusual for a budget speech. Gov. Wolf made an impassioned plea for the state to take gun laws more seriously. “The steps I’m proposing are supported by the evidence and supported by the vast majority of Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said. “To let another session go by without action would be a failure of imagination that will cost lives.”

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.governor.pa.gov/

http://www.repsaylor.com/

 

Gloucester County Emerges as the Jewel in South Jersey’s Crown

Gloucester County Emerges as the Jewel in South Jersey’s Crown

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — In a roundtable published in Forbes this week, the magazine’s Real Estate Council made a definitive ranking of the 14 Up-and-Coming Real Estate Locations to Watch. Coming in at No. 13 was none other than South Jersey’s very own Gloucester County. “For the most inspired growing area, look to Gloucester County in South Jersey!” said panelist Nancy Kowalik, owner of Nancy Kowalik Real Estate Group. 

 

But why is this county gentrifying so quickly? According to Kowalik, it’s because Gloucester County has everything. “Located close to the city and the shore, we have green spaces, room to breathe, wineries, a quaint Downtown and bike paths,” she said. “It’s all here, and that’s why world-class Rowan University is growing. A new 1,000-bed, state-of-the-art hospital is opening, too.”

The hospital to which she is referring is the Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill, 465,000-square-foot development over 100 acres with 210 private rooms, a maternity center and 62-room emergency department. The project, the county’s first new hospital in almost 45 years, was built with raised funds of $23 million, a campaign that took just seven months to reach its target.

“This is a tremendous day for South Jersey, Gloucester County and our health system,” John DiAngelo, Inspira Health’s CEO and president, said at the hospital’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in December. “With this new hospital, our commitment to providing exceptional care for our community, in our community, reaches a new level. We are excited to bring the latest in healthcare to the people of Gloucester County and surrounding communities.”

As far as the university expansion, one of the main developments has been the $400 million, 26-acre Rowan Boulevard project. 

As well as the healthcare sector and academia, Gloucester County is also proving to be attractive for the private sector, and has become somewhat of a home to craft breweries. The most recent addition is Core3Brewery, a new player that joins the ranks of Human Village Brewing Co. in Pitman, Eight & Sand Beer Co. in Woodbury, Cross Keys Brewing Co. in Williamstown and Death of the Fox Brewing Company in Clarksboro. 

“We were really drawn to the way they are building up the area around the college and definitely see the positive direction the area is moving in,” Krystle Lockman, owner of Axe and Arrow Microrewery, told South Jersey Business Journal. “It’s great to be on the ground floor of this redevelopment project in an area we have so many ties to.”

And Core3’s owner, Lawrence Price, told South Jersey Business Journal that the ease of doing business in the county will only contribute to its continued growth. “[The borough] has been so supportive and helpful and business friendly. Everything they could do to help us, they did,” he said. “Mayor Tom Bianco has always been upfront with us and in the mix of things, stopping by at least once or twice a week to see how things are going and if there is anything he can do.”

 

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.nancykowalik.com/

http://www.inspirahealthnetwork.org/mullicahill

https://www.rowan.edu/

http://www.core3brewery.com/

https://axeandarrowbrewing.com/