HARRISBURG, PA — After inheriting the chaos of a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit seven years ago, Governor Tom Wolf has led a historic improvement of the state’s finances that creates a brighter future for students, residents and businesses. The governor was joined by Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh Thursday to highlight how Pennsylvania’s economic strength supports investments that change lives.
“When I became governor, Pennsylvania was in a shaky financial situation,” said Gov. Wolf. “Like many new governors, I inherited a structural deficit. In my case, it was between 2 and 3 billion dollars.
“As a former business owner, I know what it takes to balance the books. Over the past seven years we have turned Pennsylvania’s shaky finances around. Through sound fiscal management, and by stepping up to face facts and pay our bills, my administration has put Pennsylvania back on track.”
When Gov. Wolf took office, Pennsylvania was operating with a $2-3 billion structural deficit, and the Rainy Day Fund had fallen to a mere $231,000.
Today, the Rainy Day Fund contains $2.8 billion to protect Pennsylvania against future emergencies, and the Independent Fiscal Office projects that Gov. Wolf will transition a budget surplus to the next administration. Gov. Wolf will be the first governor to leave office with a budget surplus since Governor Dick Thornburgh in 1987.
Improving the state’s finances is one reason our economy is growing. Pennsylvania has the 18th largest economy in the world, larger than the economies of Saudi Arabia, Switzerland or Turkey.
“Our economic success and our fiscal strength add up to a huge win for Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf. “This is further evidence of something I have always known to be true: that sound financial management and investments that make a difference in the lives of Pennsylvanians go hand in hand.
“At the same time that we turned our commonwealth’s finances around, my administration made historic investments in the people of Pennsylvania.”
When Gov. Wolf took office, schools across the commonwealth had been devastated by drastic education funding cuts under the previous administration. The Wolf Administration has invested nearly $2 billion in education funding to give our schools the resources they need and our students the future they deserve. In 2021 alone, the Wolf Administration oversaw a historic $416 million education funding increase.
The Wolf Administration has also made major investments to make health care more accessible and affordable for Pennsylvanians on a budget, support workers through workforce training and increased apprenticeship opportunities, spur economic growth through investment in businesses and entrepreneurs, and more.
“The work by Governor Wolf to stabilize and improve the finances of the state has clearly been seen here,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Since 2014, our GDP has steadily increased showing a 16% increase over the past few years. We’ve seen growth in employment, population, and in businesses locating here representing multiple industries. Our region can certainly take credit for that, but it is also reflective of the fact that businesses and organizations have confidence in our state government and its financial footing because of the work done under this administration.”
“Despite an unprecedented crisis that has unfolded over the last several years, our commonwealth finds itself in a strong financial position with healthy reserves and a budget surplus,” said Representative Jake Wheatley. “It is critical that we invest these funds where it will do the most good – in our families, schools and communities, so that Pennsylvania can emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever. Pennsylvania is a commonwealth, and it is up to us in the legislature to make smart investments for the common good.”
“The financial strength of our commonwealth right now is proof that Pennsylvania can and must invest in schools, health care, and creating good jobs while still saving for a rainy day,” said Gov. Wolf. “We need to keep investing in the people of Pennsylvania. That’s how we change lives, and it’s how we put our commonwealth on the path to a better future. Now is the time to step up, seize the moment and make generational investments that will put Pennsylvania on a path of prosperity for years to come.”
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