HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Facing a deep, pandemic-inflicted budget deficit, Gov. Tom Wolf will ask lawmakers for a multibillion-dollar investment into workforce development and employment assistance to help Pennsylvania recover, his office said Thursday as the governor outlined his 2021 agenda priorities.
Wolf’s office said it would aid workers whose jobs were upended by the pandemic and help fix the pandemic’s disruptions that heavily affected certain industries, lower-wage workers, minorities and the disabled.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Roller Coaster Of Conditions Ahead
“The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed Pennsylvania and exacerbated existing barriers for too many Pennsylvanians. It continues to have negative consequences for businesses, workers, and families throughout the commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said.
“To get Pennsylvania back on track from the disruptions the pandemic is causing, we need to make major, targeted investments to strengthen our economy, support workers and small business owners, rebuild our infrastructure, and help all Pennsylvanians build a path to financial security.”
Wolf, a Democrat, wants lawmakers to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage in steps to $15 an hour. He also wants to legalize adult-use cannabis.
Wolf is scheduled to issue his full budget proposal Tuesday to the Legislature. It will be his seventh year in office, and perhaps least predictable.
He has said he is counting on the federal government for more coronavirus recovery aid to help fill the state’s projected budget deficit.READ MORE: Body Of 25-Year-Old Thomas Hughes Found In Ohio River
Wolf otherwise has not called to raise income or sales taxes to fix the state’s finances, and is predicting a strong economic rebound in Pennsylvania.
The pandemic derailed his top priorities last year, including funding college scholarships in Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities to help address the student debt crisis.
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said in a statement that “the governor and his administration should have no other top priority than getting Pennsylvanians vaccinated.”
Wolf will finish his second term in office facing the same stumbling blocks as when he began: a state treasury buffeted by deficits and Republican majorities in the state Legislature that are deeply skeptical of his agenda.
Wolf is also entering the lame-duck stretch of his final term, when Republican legislators may be even less interested in helping his agenda.MORE NEWS: Multiple People Injured In Rt. 65 Crash Near McKees Rocks Bridge
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