Gov. Wolf stresses workforce development, education in 2019 budget
“Across the commonwealth, we have workers aging out of our workforce, and too often the next generation of worker is not there or doesn’t have the skills to replace them. If we can’t strengthen our workforce, we will fall behind,” Gov. Wolf said.
Gov. Tom Wolf laid out his 2019 budget priorities for Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and building the state’s workforce and investing in education are at the top of his list.
Addressing the General Assembly in Harrisburg, Wolf also noted that he intends to dedicate funding to expanding healthcare access, fighting the opioid crisis and supporting agriculture and the state’s rural communities.
“Investments in our schools. Investments to make sure more Pennsylvanians of all ages have real choices when it comes to their health care decisions,” Wolf said.
“Continued investments to reinforce our commitment to the battle against the opioid epidemic that has claimed the lives of so many of our neighbors. Investments to support our farmers and agricultural producers so they can continue to sustain our rural communities for generations to come.”
For the governor, however, first and foremost with the $34 billion budget is the state’s workforce.
Today I delivered my 2019-20 #PAbudget address. This year, my focus is on building the nation's strongest workforce.
PA created 12,000 businesses and 239,000 jobs over the past four years. We’ve begun to catch up. Now it’s time to start pulling ahead. https://t.co/rgvPQcPuDR pic.twitter.com/On3kZG42qV
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) February 5, 2019
“When Amazon made its decision not to locate its second headquarters in Pennsylvania, it cited workforce concerns as a main reason,” Wolf said.
“Across the commonwealth, we have workers aging out of our workforce, and too often the next generation of worker is not there or doesn’t have the skills to replace them. If we can’t strengthen our workforce, we will fall behind,” he added.
Wolf said that he will be assembling an inter-agency Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, to oversee his workforce efforts.
On education, Wolf argued that Pennsylvania should lower the mandatory age to six for children to enroll in school, and to raise the minimum dropout age to 18. He additionally wants the state to consider “moving to universal free full-day kindergarten for every 5-year-old in Pennsylvania.”
Within the budget, Wolf also proposes to increase teacher pay to no less than $45,000 a year.
Tying criminal justice to his workforce development plans, Wolf pushed for improving reentry programs, to “make it easier for those who have done their time to succeed in the workforce and their daily lives.”
For more on Gov. Wolf’s budget address, click here.