Governor Talks Tuition, Transit and Raising Minimum Wage in His Budget Address

Governor Josh Shapiro delivered his 2024-25 Budget Address to the General Assembly.  The governor’s 2024-2025 spending plan, which includes no increases in the state’s sales or personal income taxes, represents a 7.5% increase from this year’s $45 billion enacted budget.

The following is the address as prepared:

Lieutenant Governor Davis, Madam Speaker McClinton, Madam President Pro Tem Ward…

Leader Pittman, Leader Costa, Leader Bradford, Leader Cutler…

Thank you for convening this special session and giving me the honor of addressing you today.

While I’m grateful to see the House and the Senate gathered here together, I’m also mindful that one of our colleagues is not able to be with us.

Representative Joe Kerwin from Upper Paxton Township is currently 7,000 miles away, on deployment with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

To Representative Kerwin and every member of the Pennsylvania National Guard at home and abroad, thank you for your service to our Commonwealth and to our country.

You are the very best of us.

We’re joined by the love of my life, my best friend since the 9th grade – my wife and our First Lady, Lori Shapiro.

I’m privileged to work alongside my incredible senior staff and cabinet – led by my Chief of Staff Dana Fritz – who collectively represent one of the most impressive groups of public servants ever assembled in Pennsylvania.

And finally, I want to recognize the hardworking folks from DGS and CMS who made this address possible.

You see, today, we gather for an historic address.

In the 118 years since President Theodore Roosevelt stood right there and dedicated this grand Capitol, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has never held a joint session in this Rotunda, and the Governor has never delivered a budget address here – until today.

I want to thank Madam Speaker McClinton for deciding to convene this session here and inviting me to deliver these remarks.

I’ve walked through this building many times over the past two decades, and when I’m under this dome I try to slow down and look up… it feels like each time something new catches my attention.

You know, if you look up now, you can see the blue words circling the walls.

Those words are a quote from our founder, William Penn, written before he ever set foot in what would become Pennsylvania.

At a time when he was in prison for his religious beliefs, Penn wrote of his dream of a place where people of all religions, all backgrounds could live together in peace:

“There may be room there for such a holy experiment,” he said, speaking of North America.

“For the nations want a precedent and my God will make it the seed of the nation. That an example may be set up to the nations. That we may do the thing that is truly wise and just.”

Above those words, there is a mural painted by Philadelphia native, Edwin Austin Abbey.

Abbey’s mural, The Spirit of Religious Liberty, shows Penn’s ships leaving England, in search of freedom and a new home.

Penn had a vision of a place that would be an example to the nations – a place of tolerance, peace, and prosperity… where leaders would make wise and just decisions in service to all people.

Penn’s vision was of a Commonwealth that would welcome people of all backgrounds.

A Commonwealth where everyone would have the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed.

A Commonwealth where the government is responsive to the needs of the people – and works together to get stuff done.

I’m mindful that we’re all part of that lineage…

A long tradition that stretches back nearly 343 years, to previous Governors and leaders of this Commonwealth and General Assembly who have all worked together to make progress and build a more just, inclusive society.

A century after that mural was painted, Penn’s promise still rings true in these hallways – and it’s on us to carry it forward.

My own faith teaches me that no one is required to complete the task, but neither are we free to refrain from it.

That means each of us has a responsibility to get off the sidelines, get in the game, and do our part.

And that – doing our part – is what I want to talk to you about today.

Although this is a unique setting for a budget address, it’s not the only thing unique about the group assembled here today.

You see, Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation with a divided legislature.

In these hyperpolarized times, we are the only state where one chamber is controlled by Democrats and the other is controlled by Republicans…

That means nothing gets done unless it has support from members of both parties.

We need to compromise and give a little to get anything done.

So while we’ve had some challenging moments, I think we’ve all learned from them – myself included.

We’ve learned how to work together to get stuff done and deliver the kind of commonsense solutions I talked about last year.

Just look at all we’ve been able to accomplish. Together.

Because we worked together, children are now learning on full bellies, there are more cops on the beat, and we trained an additional 6,000 apprentices last year.

Because we worked together, poultry farmers were able to get back on their feet, and businesses are now looking to Pennsylvania as a place of great opportunity.

Because we worked together, we cut costs for seniors and working families and put more money back in their pockets at a time when they’re worried about high prices.

Here in Pennsylvania, we get… stuff… done.

Together.

And when we do accomplish something here in Harrisburg, when we move the ball down the field, it’s important to celebrate that and focus on the progress we’re making – not on the fact that we didn’t get 100 percent of what we asked for.

So let’s build on that progress.

One year after taking office, I can report that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is on strong financial footing.

Thanks to sound fiscal management in our first year, all three major credit rating agencies improved our outlook or gave us an upgrade.

And as a result of that good stewardship and those ratings improvements, taxpayers are saving nearly 100 million dollars that otherwise would have gone to big banks and investment firms as a result of higher interest rates.

Those savings are on top of the nearly 14 billion dollar surplus available to us at the end of this fiscal year.

Last year, we cut taxes. This budget continues that: it does not call for a tax increase.

But now is the time to invest some of that $14 billion surplus squirreled away here in Harrisburg.

Look, it is not a badge of honor, nor is it something to be politically proud of for some lawmakers out there to say: I took more money from the good people of Pennsylvania than I needed and then bragged about how I just kept it in some bank account here in the Capitol.

Of course we need to prepare for an emergency and a rainy day, and this budget does that.

In fact, even the ratings agencies have said that there’s too much money sitting in surpluses around the country – instead of being driven out into our communities.

I don’t want to take any more from the people of Pennsylvania than we need to.

Instead, I want to invest in them.

I want to help our Commonwealth overcome the challenges we face.

We need to build a more competitive Pennsylvania that starts in our classrooms, runs through our union halls and our small businesses, through our farmlands and our high rises, our college campuses, and leads to a life of opportunity and a retirement with dignity.

We need to keep people safe, make sure they have access to the medical treatments and care they need, and build communities where they see a future of opportunity.

So, with a competitive spirit, a fervent belief in our fellow Pennsylvanians, and excitement about our future, I present to you my budget.

Let’s start with our kids, because real opportunity begins in our classrooms.

This body has already shown a commitment to investing in our students, our teachers, and our future.

Last year, we made the largest single-year increase in basic education funding in Pennsylvania history, but we didn’t stop there.

Together, we delivered universal free breakfast for 1.7 million students so our kids can start the day with a full belly, ready to learn.

We delivered 100 million dollars to put more mental health resources in our schools so our kids can get the help that they need.

We delivered 175 million dollars for repairs in school buildings – so we can replace lead pipes, remove dangerous asbestos, and fund commonsense repairs like ensuring our classrooms are air conditioned in August and heated in January.

And we’ve begun to address the teacher shortage by making sure those who are just getting started in the profession get paid for their hard work.

All of those investments were new last year – all because we worked together.

That was an excellent first step…

But we all know – and the Court has ruled – that we need a constitutional, comprehensive solution to guarantee every student the thorough and efficient education they are entitled to under Article III Section 14 of our state constitution.

So let’s build on the work we’ve already done together.

The same Court that held our system of funding unconstitutional directed us to get around the table and come up with a better system.

It should be noted that everyone here – legislators from both parties in both chambers – accepted the remedy the Court put forth by virtue of your decision not to appeal that ruling.

With that decision, Republican leaders agreed to come to the table and fix the way we fund education.

And so, we began that work together.

The Basic Education Funding Commission heard from folks across the Commonwealth and traveled to communities big and small: rural, urban, and suburban alike.

Members of the General Assembly and their staff, alongside members of my Administration, worked hard over the past year, meeting with advocates, parents, teachers, and administrators to prepare their report.

Last month, they delivered that report and outlined a path forward to deliver a comprehensive solution on K-12 education in Pennsylvania.

And now, following the general contours of that report, my budget invests 1.1 billion dollars in new funding this year for our schools – and it makes sure no school gets less than they did last year as we drive these dollars out in a more equitable manner.

Nearly 900 million dollars of that will be sent to support our school children under a new adequacy formula so we can ensure every school has the appropriate level of resources they need to serve their students.

On top of that, my budget increases special education funding by another 50 million dollars, because we all recognize that some students need more resources and more support…

And it invests another 30 million dollars in Pre-K programs to help recruit and retain the teachers who get our kids off to a great start.

While we make these new investments, my budget also builds on the progress we made last year by addressing some of the big challenges in our schools…

We’re continuing to fund universal free breakfast during the school year, but we’re also making sure no kid goes hungry during the summer by funding the summer food service program.

That’s something we should be proud of.

And at a time when some Governors are eschewing federal funding that would ensure kids are well-fed over the summer, we’ve already shown that we – Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans alike – care about our kids and that we will come together to feed them.

This budget also includes more for student mental health.

Our students are calling out for help and support – and we need to be there for them.

And it builds on the down payment we made last year to fund school repairs.

Consider this:

The Scranton School District alone has identified more than 300 million dollars in necessary repairs – everything from installing a new fire sprinkler to removing lead paint.

The Sto-Rox School District in McKees Rocks has at least 14 million dollars’ worth of work that’s needed.

All three of their school buildings need urgent roof repairs to prevent leaks when it rains.

And the Panther Valley School District in Schuylkill and Carbon counties told the Basic Education Funding Commission that kindergarteners are forced to learn in rooms without air conditioning because they can’t afford the upgrades.

Look, I could go on and on.

My point is, we need to invest a lot more to help these districts maintain safe and healthy learning environments for students.

So my budget builds on the progress we’ve made, setting aside one-and-a-half billion dollars – including 300 million this year alone – to make our schools healthy and safe.

This is impacting students and parents in districts all across Pennsylvania…

And it’s impacted one of your colleagues too…

A couple months ago, I had a meeting with Representative Fiedler in my office.

I was a little surprised when she showed up with her two kids, who were in tow that day because their school was closed after asbestos was detected.

I was happy to see Rep. Fiedler’s kids and I’m sure they enjoyed their time in the Capitol.

But there are a lot of other families out there who would have had to miss part of a paycheck – miss a day’s work – because we didn’t do our part to make our schools safer.

And while we repair those broken pipes in our schools, we also need to repair the pipeline of professionals who go into teaching…

Because right now, PDE reports there are about 5,500 teacher vacancies across Pennsylvania.

And that’s in large part because fewer people are choosing to become teachers.

Ten years ago, Pennsylvania certified nearly 20,000 new teachers every year…

Last year, we certified only 5,000 because so few people applied.

We’ve taken some steps as a Commonwealth to improve this…

We sped up the time it takes to get a new teacher their certification, from over 12 weeks to just under three.

We’re giving stipends to student teachers for the first time ever.

But rebuilding that pipeline takes time, and we need to do more.

That’s why my budget proposes additional investments in student teachers and talent recruitment so we can expose more young people to the joys of teaching and nurturing our kids.

Two months ago in Hershey, I presented the Teacher of the Year Award to Ms. Ashlie Crosson from Mifflin County.

It was awesome to see so many teachers together in one room.

They talked to me about how rewarding their profession is, but also that they need more help and support.

That’s why we’re putting more mental health resources in our schools and we’re working to help our kids improve their reading ability and STEM skills.

I also heard from those teachers about how they’re confronting the misinformation kids are finding online and bringing into the classroom.

We need to address that.

I’m especially mindful of this during Black History Month.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “education must train one for quick, resolute, and effective thinking.”

“To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult.”

“We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda,” King wrote.

Look, our children are being fed half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda nearly every day on their phones and social media.

We give them devices with access to the entire world at a young age, but never teach them how to use them.

Lori and I see this as parents.

I don’t care whether our kids take a position on the left or on the right… but I do care that they’re able to discern fact from fiction.

That’s why I’ve directed the Department of Education to develop a toolkit for teachers and parents on digital literacy and critical thinking.

This is important, and it follows on the good work you did last year when you passed – and I signed into law – a bill that requires schools to teach financial literacy.

We need to ensure our young people are prepared for the world that they are living in.

We also need to update antiquated state laws that cost our school districts too much money.

Let me give you an example.

When the charter school law was first adopted in 1997, the idea of going to a cyber school was new and relatively few parents sent their kids there.

But today, nearly 60,000 Pennsylvania students go to cyber charters.

However, we’ve never gone back and reevaluated how we fund these schools.

Cyber schools get the same amount per student as brick-and-mortar schools do.

And it varies district by district.

In practice, that means one district might pay 7,000 dollars to a cyber charter while another has to pay 10,000 dollars to the exact same school.

And while cyber charters certainly need adequate funding to operate, logic would dictate that two students going to the same school, getting the same education, would pay the same rate.

Logic would also dictate that they need less than a brick-and-mortar charter school simply because they don’t have the same physical infrastructure.

I know there’s bipartisan consensus that these antiquated laws need to be updated.

So let’s come up with a uniform rate that actually reflects what it costs to send a kid to a cyber charter school.

Let’s say we set a rate of 8,000 dollars per student – the amount set by a bill that passed the House last year in a bipartisan manner.

If we do that, we will level the playing field, and as a result, we’ll be able to return 262 million dollars back to our public schools.

If you combine those savings with the new money I’m proposing for our 500 school districts, that would mean nearly 2 billion dollars more for our public schools next year.

This is ambitious. None of this is easy and all of it will require us to work together.

To stay at the table.

To keep having the important conversations.

And look, one of those conversations will need to be about scholarships that let poor families in struggling school districts put their kids in the best position for them to succeed – whether that’s paying for extra tutoring, books and computers, or yes, going to another school.

The Senate passed a proposal last year that included important elements of that, and it’s something I support and consider to be unfinished business.

I’m grateful House Democratic Leadership has committed to examine and seriously consider this proposal to address the needs of our most at-risk learners.

So, we’ve left room for the House and Senate to find common ground on this.

Let’s not shy away from the many difficult conversations around education.

Let’s stay at it.

Our challenges around education aren’t going to be solved in one budget cycle, but we can make real progress toward a lasting, equitable solution.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do right by our kids.

Let’s seize this moment.

If we do this right, we will not only set our young people up for individual success, but we will lift up our entire Commonwealth in the process.

And once those kids graduate from high school, we need to make sure they have the freedom to chart their own course and determine for themselves their next steps in life.

I’m sick and tired of hearing someone say to a high school student, “well… college just might not be right for you. Maybe you should think about becoming a welder.”

That elitist attitude is wrong – and it hurts our Commonwealth.

If you’re in the 10th or 11th grade and you’re excited about being a welder or a plumber, we should celebrate that.

And we should treat that career path with the same level of respect as someone who chooses to go to college.

We’ve shown that kind of respect in my Administration.

On my first day as Governor, I signed an Executive Order announcing that 92% of Commonwealth jobs do not require a college degree.

And as a result, one year later, nearly 60% of the Commonwealth’s new hires don’t have a college degree, but do have the necessary skills to help our fellow Pennsylvanians.

Together, we’ve made record investments in vo-tech, apprenticeship programs, and on the job training.

Last year, I signed an Executive Order creating a first-in-the-nation initiative to train as many as 10,000 new workers here in Pennsylvania over the next 5 years.

So when the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority needs to replace lead service lines in a neighborhood like Esplen where I visited last summer…

We’ll fund their new workers – workers who hopefully went through our school districts, went into an apprenticeship program and fell in love with the trades – and can go out and use their skills to deliver clean drinking water to our homes.

I’m coming back to you today and including these investments in my budget once again because what we did last year is working.

Since then, my Administration has registered 33 new apprenticeship programs and enrolled nearly 6,000 new apprentices statewide.

Thanks to our collective work, more Pennsylvanians are training to become steelworkers in York County and machinists in Elk County.

We’re training more apprentices in dairy herd management, water system operations, and cybersecurity.

We’re giving Pennsylvanians the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed.

So let’s keep at it.

That’s one of the reasons why I want to create a new “Career Connect” program to connect employers with talented young people and create thousands of internships over the next 10 years…

Because let’s remember: there are many paths to success after high school.

Some of our young people will go into the military…

Some will go straight into the workforce…

Some will enter a union apprenticeship program.

And some will go to college.

We need to respect all paths to opportunity equally, and we need to invest in them.

So let’s now talk how we’re going to help those who choose the path to college.

In my budget address last year, I proclaimed our higher ed system broken and called for a new blueprint.

You may recall, that was one of the moments when both sides stood up and applauded, because we all recognized the need for us to come together and do something.

Let’s be honest, what we’re doing now isn’t working.

After 30 years of disinvestment, too many of our colleges and universities are running on empty and not enough students have affordable pathways through college and into good jobs.

Pennsylvania now ranks 49th for state investment in higher education, and 48th in higher education affordability.

Over the past decade, enrollment in our state system of higher education has dropped 30 percent and enrollment in our community colleges has dropped 37 percent.

The faculty, staff, and administrators at these schools are working really hard, but they’ve been dealt a lousy hand.

Because of the Legislature’s disinvestment, colleges are being forced to duplicate degree programs, drive up costs, and actually reduce access.

And so, for the better part of the last decade, the conversations around higher ed in this building have been about subtraction.

Subtracting resources. Subtracting services. Subtracting access.

Pennsylvanians deserve better.

We need to play a game of addition, not subtraction, and focus on building a world-class system of higher education.

One that keeps our young people in the Commonwealth, helps our students gain the skills they need, and provides businesses with the workforce they require to grow and be successful.

A system focused on competitiveness, grounded in access and affordability.

Last year, I promised you I would come back with a plan.

After a year of gathering feedback from higher education leaders across the Commonwealth, I’m proud to present to you my blueprint for higher education.

A blueprint that has earned the support of higher ed leaders from every sector – from our community colleges and PASSHE schools to our HBCUs and state-related universities.

This plan has earned the support of students, workers, CEOs, County Commissioners, and Mayors – and a good number of the folks in this room.

A bold, forward-looking vision that I believe we can make happen. Together.

Let me walk you through my three-part plan.

First, we will build a new system for higher education that unites our PASSHE schools and our 15 community colleges.

This new system will preserve local leadership while ensuring we’re all rowing in the same direction.

Together, our public colleges and universities will create pathways to affordable credentials and degrees while opening up the doors of opportunity and meeting the Commonwealth’s workforce needs.

Last year, we invested just under 850 million dollars in our PASSHE universities and community colleges combined.

This year, I’m proposing that we invest 975 million dollars – a 15 percent increase – to create and support this new system.

Second, we need to fix the way we fund our state-relateds – Pitt, Penn State, and Temple – along with the nation’s oldest degree granting HBCU, Lincoln University.

For too long, we’ve under-funded them and subjected them to political games.

At the same time, I know some Pennsylvanians wonder what they’re getting by investing in these institutions if they or a loved one don’t go there.

I’m proposing that we fund these schools through the Department of Education with a simple majority vote – and that we no longer write them a blank check.

We should begin this new approach and increase their funding by 5 percent this year, and Pennsylvanians should know that we’re going to pay for outcomes and performance.

Let me explain:

Working together with members of the General Assembly and higher education leaders, we’ll create a predictable, transparent, outcomes-based funding system that will apply to schools in the new system and our state-relateds.

And that funding system will incentivize outcomes that benefit all Pennsylvanians.

Like increasing the number of first-generation college students enrolled…

Ensuring more students stay here after graduation…

And they go into the fields we need, like agriculture, education, and nursing.

All while ensuring there is transparency and increasing accountability for our tax dollars.

In the past, our state-relateds had to get a two-thirds vote just to get a dollar.

Under my plan, it’ll be a simple majority – and that dollar could turn into a dollar-ten, a dollar-twenty, if they meet the metrics we all agree upon.

And as we pay for performance, we also need to make sure higher education is affordable for every student, whether they attend our new system, or a state-related, or one of our independent colleges and universities.

That’s the third part of my plan.

Next year, after this new system is in place, I’ll come back to you and ask that you invest another 279 million dollars directly into offsetting costs for our students.

Under my plan, no student or family making the median income or below will have to pay more than 1,000 dollars per semester for tuition and fees in this new system.

And to help students at every school, we’ll increase PHEAA grants for students by 1,000 dollars.

If we pass my plan and make the investments that I lay out in my budget, we would jump from 49th in the nation today to 22nd in just 5 years.

It’s time to build on this new blueprint for higher education in Pennsylvania and leave a lasting legacy on this Commonwealth.

Because if we can ensure that Pennsylvanians receive a great education, from Pre-K through an apprenticeship program all the way to college graduation…

If we can give Pennsylvanians the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed…

Then economic opportunity will follow.

It’s on top of that foundation of educational excellence that we will build an economy that is a leader in economic development, innovation, and job creation.

I’ve made it clear: Pennsylvania is open for business.

We hit the ground running, with a bunch of wins.

As a result of our direct engagement, we secured more than 1.2 billion dollars in new private sector investment.

EMD Electronics, a global semiconductor manufacturing company, is putting 300 million dollars into Schuylkill County and building the largest specialty gas facility in the world.

Purolite is investing 190 million dollars in Chester County to create their first U.S. based manufacturing line for biotech and pharmaceutical products.

And we convinced Excelitas, a leader in photonics technology, to relocate from Massachusetts to the Strip District in Pittsburgh.

As a guy who absolutely hates the Boston Celtics, it gave me great pleasure to take this company out of Beantown and welcome them to Pennsylvania.

Here in Pennsylvania, investment is up and unemployment is down.

We sped up government, cut down processing times, eliminated backlogs, and slashed red tape.

Last year, Pennsylvania issued 249,000 of the same type of business license, for companies big and small.

The day I took office, it took eight weeks to get one.

Today it takes three days.

We’re moving at the speed of business.

But we can’t stop here, because I want us to be the best.

That’s why, last week, I announced that Pennsylvania now has a comprehensive economic development strategy for the first time in nearly two decades.

This plan focuses our attention and our resources on five sectors where we’re poised to compete and win.

Agriculture, Energy, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, and Robotics and Technology.

We’ve got a strategy to deploy different tools and approaches to lift up each of them.

But in order to execute this plan…

In order to compete, we need to invest.

Consider this – over the last five years, our neighbors Ohio, New York, and New Jersey all committed more resources to economic development than Pennsylvania.

Ohio has one-and-a-half million fewer people than Pennsylvania, yet they’ve invested over seven times more in economic development than we have.

And you know what, their investment is paying off.

And I’m sick and tired of losing to friggin’ Ohio!

We need to catch up.

Last year, my Administration invited a group of leading site selectors from across the country to our state capital for two days and asked for their honest feedback.

These are the people who help decide where companies are going to relocate or expand.

They were bullish on our highly skilled workforce, our world-class universities, and the way we’ve reformed government to make it move quicker…

They liked that we’re less than a day’s drive from 40 percent of the nation’s population.

But they told us it’s nearly impossible to sell a company on this Commonwealth because we don’t have sites ready to go.

Other states literally have pads that are shovel ready.

Permits are done, electrical hookups are good to go.

It’s time we catch up – and it’s important we start this work now, because it takes years to get some of these sites ready.

That’s why, thanks to the investment you made last year, we launched a pilot program for site development through DCED.

We asked for applications and made 10 million dollars in grants available so developers and companies could begin the process.

But over the course of just a few weeks, we received over 100 applications worth more than 235 million dollars for site development.

The demand is there.

The business community is ready.

And other states are already doing it. It’s time we catch up.

That’s why I am proposing a major new investment where we will bond half a billion dollars to develop sites.

And when it works, we’ll use the added revenues we get from the companies that move to these sites to pay back that bond.

There’s power in these pads.

Last May, Pro Tem Ward and Leader Pittman joined me to announce the redevelopment of an old Alcoa site in New Kensington, to turn it into a center of high-tech manufacturing – and create 300 new jobs in a community that has long been overlooked.

That’s just one site, and that project is gonna change the face of that community.

Once it’s up and running, the old factory that used to make aluminum will embrace innovation, producing parts for aircraft and batteries to support our clean energy sector.

You’ll see in my budget a new direct investment in our innovation economy.

One that helps our start-ups grow, supports the dreams of our entrepreneurs and inventors, and gives them the resources they need to go after the next big discovery and then commercialize it, right here in Pennsylvania.

These sites and our investments in innovation are key to growing our economy, rebuilding our communities, and combatting climate change.

I know there are bills to pass and work to do to combat climate change, but one of the most important things we can do right now is invest in our clean energy economy and the jobs it supports.

My economic development plan will do that – and it will help businesses succeed here in Pennsylvania.

And when those businesses set up shop, we want to make sure their new employees have great communities to live in, where Main Street is lined with shops and small businesses and housing is affordable.

That’s why I’m proposing 25 million dollars for our new Main Street Matters initiative, building off the Keystone Communities program to support small businesses, downtowns, and main streets all across the Commonwealth.

At the same time, we’ll launch the Pennsylvania Regional Competitiveness Challenge to incentivize regional planning so local communities can work together to leverage the resources available to them.

The LG and I have met with local elected leaders to see how our investments can support their vision.

This is exactly the kind of thing Mayors and County Commissioners from both parties have been asking for.

As we build strong, thriving communities, we also need to ensure folks can get around safely and affordably.

Last year, we finally started completely decoupling state police funding and infrastructure funding, which put them both on stronger financial footing.

That made an additional 125 million dollars available for road and bridge repairs.

My Administration leveraged that state funding to get even more matching federal dollars…

And as a result, we repaired over 7,000 miles of Pennsylvania roadways – 600 more miles than we repaired the year before.

This year, my budget makes another 125 million available so we can do even more to ensure our roads are safe and well-maintained.

But not everybody drives to work or school on our roadways.

Nearly one million Pennsylvanians rely on public transit every single day.

Major employers count on trains, buses, and trolleys to get their employees to and from the office.

And our seniors depend on shared ride services for 2.1 million trips a year – especially in rural communities.

Public transit provides freedom and opportunity.

It makes us competitive and helps us sell our Commonwealth to others.

From the companies I talked about earlier, to the organizers and fans of the FIFA World Cup and the MLB All Star game coming here in 2026…

They all want clean, safe, on-time public transit.

That’s what Pennsylvanians deserve.

It’s what our economy needs.

And that’s why I am proposing the first major new investment in public transit in more than a decade.

Under my plan, transit systems across Pennsylvania will receive 1.5 billion dollars over the next five years.

That would mean nearly 40 million dollars more for PRT in Allegheny County this year alone…

6 million more for LANTA in Lehigh and Northampton counties…

And millions more for other systems across the state.

I know this is especially important in southeastern Pennsylvania.

That’s why my Administration has been working with SEPTA for months to address their unique challenges and come up with a solution.

I insisted they address concerns about cleanliness and safety – and I asked the local counties whose residents benefit from that system to meet this moment with additional support.

I can now report that SEPTA has presented plans to address cleanliness and safety, and county officials have entertained a willingness to increase their financial support.

While SEPTA has work to do to make good on those plans in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, my Administration is now prepared to increase our investment in SEPTA by 161 million dollars, bringing the total state funding to 1 billion dollars…

This will trigger an automatic match of 15 percent from local counties, raising another 24 million dollars for the system this year.

Based on our discussions with SEPTA, if you adopt my proposal they will not cut service or raise fares, and they’ll have a concrete plan for a cleaner, safer public transit system that creates economic opportunity in southeastern Pennsylvania.

My Administration is focused on creating economic opportunity in every community.

Rural, urban, and suburban alike.

Something you may have noticed is that for the first time, our economic development strategy isn’t limited in its focus to our high rises or our suburban office parks.

We understand that our economic success is dependent on our rural communities and our farmlands.

Last spring, I spent time on Silver Valley Farm, a 9th generation family farm in Lancaster County.

I don’t see that farm as just part of our heritage. I see it as a critical part of our economic success going forward.

Pennsylvania is home to 53,000 farms.

Nearly 600,000 of our fellow Pennsylvanians work in agriculture and ag contributes 132 billion dollars to our state’s economy.

To ignore that is not just disrespectful to our farmers – it doesn’t make sense economically.

In the same sentence when we talk about life sciences, manufacturing, and robotics, we should be talking about investing in our farms and in our farmers.

That’s why my economic development strategy places a special emphasis on ag.

As an example, I want to help more farmers upgrade their equipment and take advantage of the latest technology through our Ag Innovation funding.

There’s real innovation happening all across our Commonwealth, especially on our farms.

Over the summer, I visited the Reinford dairy farm in Juniata County and met Brett Reinford and his beautiful family – he joins us here today.

He showed me their methane digester that turns waste into electricity, not just for their farm but for the neighborhood nearby.

Brett is helping our environment and his business.

That’s the ingenuity of Pennsylvania farmers at work.

The Commonwealth invested in that digester, and we need to do more of that on our farms across Pennsylvania.

This budget also invests in animal health and disease prevention by funding a new state animal testing laboratory in western Pennsylvania.

You see, right now, we have state animal testing labs in central and eastern Pennsylvania, but not in the western part of our state.

That’s a big oversight, and my budget closes that gap to help protect our herds, flocks, and farms.

This is a statewide economic development strategy that runs from our skyscrapers to our farmlands.

On our roads and our rails.

It also gives everyone a shot at economic opportunity – no matter what you look like or where you come from.

I’ve talked to so many small business owners who just want that shot.

Like at Cocoapreneur in Pittsburgh, an incubator for Black owned businesses, providing them with office space and access to capital.

We need to do more of that.

We need to make sure there’s opportunity for all to participate in our economy and build generational wealth.

That’s why we devoted new funding specifically to support historically disadvantaged businesses in our last budget.

For the first time, the Commonwealth is directly putting state dollars towards creating opportunity for folks who’ve been shut out for too long.

I’ve heard from small and small diverse businesses how hard it is to compete for state contracts – despite doing exactly the sort of work we are looking for.

The largest purchaser of good and services in Pennsylvania is the Commonwealth.

That’s why I signed an Executive Order to help those businesses work with us, and we’re already making progress…

DGS put into place a prompt pay policy that requires prime contractors to pay their subcontractors within 10 days of receiving payment.

We raised the revenue cap so more small and small diverse business could qualify.

And we reduced the time it takes to certify a small business to work with the Commonwealth by 33 percent.

Look, I’m not just doing this because it’s the right thing to do – and it is.

I’m doing this because it’s the smart thing to do.

When we open up these opportunities to more businesses, we can deliver better services at better prices for the good people of Pennsylvania.

I’m not looking to give a handout.

I want to give a hand up – and create an opportunity economy that gives everyone a shot.

In order to create that kind of opportunity, Pennsylvanians need to earn a decent wage.

And come on guys, let’s be real, our minimum wage has been stuck at 7-25 an hour for 15 years.

It’s a shanda!

If you don’t know what that means, ask the budget secretary later.

It’s time we raise our minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour.

Because we’re falling behind.

It’s anticompetitive and it’s hurting our workers.

And as we’ve remained at a flat 7-25, every single one of our neighboring states has raised their minimum wage, as have 30 other states across the country.

We’ve seen proof that Pennsylvania workers living in border counties would rather drive into another state for work so they can earn a higher wage than take a job at home in Pennsylvania.

Along our Northern Tier, some workers in the hospitality sector go to work in New York and leave employers here in the Pennsylvania Wilds struggling to find help.

Raising the minimum wage is going to make us more competitive, and it’s going to create economic opportunity.

The House passed a bill to raise our minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour…

And I’m encouraged to see the comments of leaders in the Senate who’ve shown a willingness to engage on this issue.

Let’s finally get this done.

You know, that’s not only place where we’re falling behind other states…

Remember when I talked about losing out to Ohio?

Well, last year, 57 percent of voters in Ohio supported an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.

And now, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland – practically all of our neighbors – have legalized marijuana.

We’re losing out on an industry that, once fully implemented, would bring in more than 250 million dollars in annual revenue.

And our failure to legalize and regulate this only fuels the black market and drains much needed resources for law enforcement.

It’s time to catch up.

I ask you to come together and send to my desk a bill that legalizes marijuana.

But that bill should ensure the industry is regulated and taxed responsibly…

That we create jobs and build wealth here in Pennsylvania, especially in the communities that have been disproportionately harmed by criminalization…

And that those who have been convicted for nonviolent possession of small amounts of marijuana have their records expunged.

Let’s stop hamstringing ourselves and start competing.

And while we take steps to be more competitive, we’ve got to be mindful that we also have to cut costs for folks.

As I’ve traveled across the Commonwealth, I’ve heard firsthand from Pennsylvanians who are struggling.

They’ve told me how it seems like the price of everything – from rent to childcare to groceries – is making it harder for people to make ends meet.

Relief is on the way, as we took two giant steps forward last year to cut costs.

Together, we put money back in the pockets of working families by expanding the childcare tax credit.

This year, 210,000 families will get hundreds more dollars back to help pay for childcare.

On top of that, we delivered the largest targeted tax cut for our seniors in nearly two decades by expanding the Property Tax Rent Rebate.

This program hadn’t been updated since 2006.

Lawmakers had complained about it for a while – but together, we got it done.

And now, 175,000 more seniors qualify for relief – and for those who already qualified, many will see their rebates nearly double.

And we tied the income limit to the cost of living so no one will be priced out in the future.

Pennsylvanians have to work extra hard to pay their bills.

We should work as hard for them as they do for themselves…

So let’s work harder together to cut costs.

We can do that by helping Pennsylvanians stay in – and take care of – their homes.

Almost 60% of all homes in Pennsylvania were built before 1970, and many of them are in dire need of repairs.

But a lot of homeowners just can’t afford the cost of those repairs.

Take Inge Shomo in Cambria County, for example.

Her furnace gave out and at age 72, she couldn’t afford a replacement.

Instead, she used space heaters and even her oven to heat her home.

Imagine that was your mother or your grandmother. Living alone. Turning on the oven overnight and leaving the door open just to stay warm.

We can’t accept that.

But fortunately, this body came together and created the Whole Home Repairs program.

Inge was one of the first recipients of this new initiative and received a 10,000-dollar grant to replace her furnace and fix two drafty doors in her house.

We’ve distributed all of the initial money allocated for that program.

Demand was so strong that there is a waitlist in most counties, and especially in our rural counties.

In Potter County for example, as of last month, they’ve allocated all of their funding but there are eight times more people sitting on a waitlist.

Indiana County has enough funding for around 25 projects but received more than 75 applications.

We can’t leave struggling homeowners out to dry.

Let’s support them by investing another 50 million dollars in Whole Home Repairs.

This is a smart investment.

We know it works, and demand is high.

We also need to make housing more affordable, and one of the most effective tools we have to do that is the Housing Trust Fund.

For 14 years, this fund has subsidized the construction and rehabilitation of more affordable housing, but it hasn’t gotten enough support.

My budget will increase the cap for that fund to 100 million dollars over the next four years.

Helping folks repair their homes and building more affordable homes will help cut costs for Pennsylvanians.

We’ve lowered costs for seniors.

We’ve lowered costs for families with children.

We have a plan to lower costs for homeowners and renters.

You know what else is taking too much money out of people’s pockets?

The cost of health care.

Folks are getting hurt by the high cost for health insurance…

Consider this.

There are folks in this Commonwealth who are working hard.

They have a job, they’re supporting themselves, and they make JUST enough money that they don’t get government assistance for health insurance…

But they still don’t make enough to afford the price of private health insurance premiums.

There are 100,000 of our fellow Pennsylvanians who fall in that category.

These are people who are doing everything right. They just need a little bit of help.

Let’s be there for them.

My budget invests 50 million dollars to allow them to keep working and purchase health insurance.

At the same time this investment will also help lower the premiums for an additional 400,000 Pennsylvanians.

Because if we do nothing, these folks will be priced out of health insurance – and when we have folks who are uninsured it only drives up the cost of health care for all of us.

So we can invest this funding now and save us all money later.

Or we can do nothing and subject ourselves to higher costs down the road.

This is commonsense stuff.

Folks are also getting screwed by the high cost of prescription drugs.

Drug companies keep raising prices, but we often don’t know why, because the middlemen negotiating those drug prices between your health insurance company and drug manufacturers don’t have to report enough information to the Insurance Department.

Those middlemen are called Pharmacy Benefit Managers – or PBMs – and they have made record profits on the backs of Pennsylvanians.

It’s time to reform the operation of PBMs.

We’re doing our part – we need legislation to go further.

We also need to help Pennsylvanians who are being crushed by medical debt.

Consider this, one million Pennsylvanians carry some kind of medical debt – and this issue disproportionately impacts our rural communities.

In fact, the counties with the highest share of medical debt are Warren, Greene, Bradford, Franklin, and McKean.

In Warren County alone, 20 percent of residents carry medical debt that’s affecting their credit.

Combined with higher prices at the stores, this debt is an anchor holding those families and communities back.

When you can’t afford to pay it off, your credit score suffers and it makes it harder to reach financial stability.

Because hospitals sell off this debt to collection agencies for pennies on the dollar, with an investment of just four million dollars in my budget we can start wiping out medical debt for Pennsylvanians and give them the chance to succeed financially.

This is an issue that disproportionately impacts our rural communities – at the same time as we face a crisis in rural health care.

In the past 20 years, 33 rural hospitals in Pennsylvania have either reduced services or closed completely.

My Administration has been working closely with elected officials from both parties, as well as health care and community leaders to put our rural health care providers on stable footing moving forward.

I expect to come back to you in the next several months with a plan to address this crisis.

Because as we cut the cost of health care, we also need to make sure it’s available and accessible for everyone.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone.

Imagine you’re among the one million Pennsylvanians with medical debt and you have a furnace on the fritz…

You’re 60 years old, caring for your adult child with disabilities, and not getting any support to offset your costs.

I’ve listened to those families.

I’ve seen the exhaustion and desperation in the eyes of parents and caregivers who are doing everything right, and still can’t get their kids the services they need.

One of those parents – and her son – joins us today.

Cindy and her adult son Matthew live in Lititz, in Lancaster County.

They visited me in my office back in June.

Matthew requires 24/7 support, something that Cindy hasn’t been able to find because our state doesn’t pay direct support professionals enough.

So instead, Cindy, a 60-year-old single mom who’s battled her own health challenges that have limited her ability to care for Matthew, is forced to provide care herself – along with Matthew’s grandma, Judy.

Listen, you’ve all heard from people like Cindy, Judy, and Matthew.

They’ve walked these halls.

They’ve rolled their wheelchairs into your offices year after year to ask you to step up and help.

And yet nothing has changed.

The biggest reason why people can’t access care is because there aren’t enough caregivers.

And the reason why there aren’t enough caregivers is because they aren’t getting paid enough.

We’re asking someone to do this incredibly difficult, skilled, labor-intensive work…

And the state rate that helps determine their paycheck yields about 12 bucks an hour.

So consequently, these caregivers – who got into this field because they want to help people – go find work elsewhere, because they just don’t get paid enough.

My budget invests 216 million dollars – which allows us to draw down another 266 million in federal dollars – to provide more resources than ever before for home and community-based service providers, so in turn they can pay competitive rates to attract and retain staff who provide these life-changing services.

Imagine if this was your kid.

Imagine if you couldn’t find the services they need and found out the only reason a caregiver isn’t available is because they’re getting paid a wage that they can’t live on because the state refuses to raise our rate.

I know some members here don’t have to imagine it – they’re living it.

Let’s make this the year that we get it done for Cindy, Judy, and Matthew and thousands of others like them all across Pennsylvania.

And let’s show that this budget isn’t just a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet – it’s a statement of values, of principles –

Of our commitment to our fellow Pennsylvanians.

Especially when it comes to how we care for the most vulnerable.

That’s why this budget invests in Early Intervention and childcare, because our kids deserve the support they need to grow and develop before they enter school…

It raises the minimum SNAP benefit for low-income families, because every Pennsylvanian deserves a healthy meal on the table at dinner time.

This budget addresses a challenge for so many girls who access lack to feminine hygiene products at home and at school.

This is something we don’t often talk about, but the First Lady has spent time this year meeting with these young women and hearing their stories.

Lori has spoken to girls who have literally missed school because they got their period and had to run home in the middle of the day – because nothing was available for them at school.

This budget makes feminine hygiene products available at no cost in our schools, because girls deserve to have peace of mind so they can focus on learning.

This budget also increases support for health care providers that provide high-quality family planning tools and reproductive health care services…

Because women and girls deserve to make their own choices about their own bodies.

We ought to double down on our work to prevent maternal mortality – especially among Black mothers…

And this budget does that, fulfilling a commitment I made to the Black Maternal Health Caucus, and a priority of our Commonwealth’s Second Lady, and a new mom, Blayre Holmes Davis.

This budget invests more in the very capable hands of our Triple As to deliver more services…

It gives caregivers more tools to support an aging loved one…

And for the first time ever, establishes an Alzheimer’s Disease Division at the Department of Aging to support families dealing with that terrible disease.

And all of these investments are being made as we get ready to implement the first-ever Master Plan on Aging, because our seniors deserve support so they can live out their golden years with dignity.

Today, nearly one in four Pennsylvanians are seniors.

By 2030, it’ll be one in three.

Now is the time to plan for that.

A budget is a statement of our values and as we think about our values, let’s remember what happens between your ears is just as important as what happens to the rest of your body.

We’ve already done meaningful work to address this, investing 100 million dollars in student mental health and 20 million dollars for county mental health support.

This budget matches those investments and goes even further by increasing support for county-level mental health services…

Investing to keep the 988 crisis hotline in operation…

And supporting walk-in mental health crisis centers.

As we think about our values, we also need to help those who’ve been abused or left unprotected by the law.

We need to finally do right by survivors of sexual abuse and give them the chance to confront their abusers in court after decades of injustice.

Come on gang. You’ve passed this before.

It shouldn’t need to be part of a political deal with some strings attached.

We should do it because it is right.

We should recognize the dignity of every Pennsylvanian.

We should be proud of what Penn set in motion…

A place that would be welcoming to all…

A place where there are no second-class citizens…

In 1974, right here in Harrisburg, Governor Milton Shapp, working alongside my friend Mark Segal, became the first governor in the nation to meet with the LGBTQ community, and one year later, he became the first to ban discrimination against LGBTQ state employees.

That’s a history we should be proud of.

We were leading the nation when it came to LGBTQ rights.

Now we’re falling behind.

It’s ridiculous that here in Pennsylvania two women can get married on a Sunday and fired from their job on a Monday, just because they’re in love.

That their landlord can legally throw them out of their apartment just because he’s bigoted.

The House passed the Fairness Act to fix this.

The Senate should honor our legacy of tolerance, pass that bill, and put it on my desk.

We should also work together to implement commonsense reforms that make our system more fair and more just for everyone.

We began that work together last year, passing Clean Slate and probation reform.

Let’s continue that work.

Every Pennsylvanian who enters the criminal justice system has a constitutional right to adequate legal defense.

Before I was elected your Governor, Pennsylvania was only one of two states in the nation that didn’t provide any state funding for public defenders.

Last year, we came together to lose that shameful distinction and deliver 7.5 million dollars for poor defendants.

But that’s just a down payment.

We need to do more, because the need is great.

My budget invests another 10 million dollars in our public defenders.

But criminal defendants aren’t the only ones in need of legal help.

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network provides pro bono legal services to help seniors, families, and Pennsylvanians with disabilities – and my budget increases their state funding by 50 percent.

And for the first time ever, this budget ensures Pennsylvanians facing eviction will have access to legal counsel.

Philadelphia has done exceptional work with its own Eviction Diversion Program, a nationally recognized initiative started during the pandemic.

Now, we should expand that work statewide.

As we continue to make our legal system more fair and just, we have to think about the victims of crime, and those communities that are impacted by gun violence…

Let me tell you about one of those victims, Nicolas Elizalde.

Nicolas was a wonderful 9th grade kid from Roxborough.

He actually volunteered on my campaign because he cared about his community.

He had a bright future ahead of him, until a gunman killed him after a football game.

I’ve talked to his mom, Meredith, several times – in fact many of you have heard from her too.

Since Nicolas’ death, she’s been a powerful advocate and testified before the House Judiciary Committee for laws that might have saved her son’s life – and could save more lives in the future.

We’re honored to have Nicolas’ mom here with us today.

With gun violence at unacceptable levels in our communities, it’s long past time for us to take real action.

Lieutenant Governor Davis knows this well – he’s been leading on this issue since his time as a kid in McKeesport when he saw someone get shot on his block.

Now, thanks to his leadership at PCCD, for the first time ever, we’re going to fund a statewide Office of Gun Violence.

And invest another 100 million to address gun violence in Pennsylvania…

We’ll also increase nonprofit security grants for places like mosques, churches, and synagogues…

And we’ll give our local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys’ offices more resources to investigate and prosecute gun-related crimes.

But we can’t stop there.

This year, we have an opportunity to pass the first significant gun reform legislation in 20 years.

Why the hell are we okay with loopholes on background checks that allow criminals to get their hands on guns?

Just close the loopholes.

You all like to talk a big game about law and order.

So let’s strengthen our laws and bring about more order.

The House passed a package of bills to do that in a bipartisan manner.

The Senate should do the same.

The community is crying out for us to act – law enforcement is on their side – and you should be too.

Our police officers do a dangerous job in dangerous conditions, and we need to have their backs.

Last year, we provided funding to help local police departments recruit more officers.

We also made a massive investment in the Pennsylvania State Police, creating four new state trooper cadet classes – which PSP is already hiring for.

But the need is great – and it’s clear we need an additional four cadet classes.

And now is the time to do it, because PSP saw a 258 percent increase last year in the number of applicants taking the test to become a state trooper.

We have to support those who take up that call to service and invest in them.

We owe it to them to make sure they’ve got the equipment, resources, and funding they need to do their jobs as safely as possible.

And it’s not just cops who need resources, equipment, and technology.

It’s our first responders too.

Last year, we took a step forward when we helped fire companies invest in better equipment and more training, prepare to fight dangerous wildfires, and expand efforts to recruit and retain more firefighters.

After the Norfolk Southern train derailment near our western border – a year ago this past Saturday – we made sure the railroad paid to replace all the firefighting equipment used up or contaminated as a result of their crash.

This year, my budget expands on that work by doubling our investment in the State Fire Commissioner’s Fire and EMS Grant Program.

Just a few weeks ago, I was in Johnstown at the West End Ambulance Service, where they told me about how they need help.

I’ve heard similar things from professional firefighters – who need a lot of help, especially rebuilding rundown firehouses, and dealing with their colleagues’ mental health.

We have to ensure all our first responders are well-staffed, well-funded, and well-equipped.

And that’s exactly what this budget will do.

This year, we have a real chance to build safer communities, become more competitive, and invest in our students and their success.

I’ve just laid out a comprehensive and aggressive budget focused on doing just that.

Where each piece builds on the other.

Where that young girl gets a great quality education no matter where she lives…

She has options for her future no matter what path she chooses…

Whether that’s going straight into the workforce, going to an apprenticeship program, or going to a college she can afford…

Where there are good jobs in her community because we reinvested in it…

Where, as she grows up, she’s got a health care system that’s not working against her but working with her…

Where she gets to age with dignity…

And of course, live in a Commonwealth that respects her for who she is.

I know that’s a bold vision, and some will reflexively be opposed, saying “we can’t afford that.”

But I would argue we can’t afford not to invest right now.

We have a 14 billion dollar surplus.

We’re facing real challenges in education and with our workforce that will hold us back in the future if we don’t take action right now.

Remember when I said one in four Pennsylvanians is over the age of 60, and by 2030, it’s going to be one in three?

That means we need to invest now, not only so that we can care for the increasing population of older adults, but so we can attract more young people, more businesses, and more prosperity to Pennsylvania.

No one here should be OK with an unconstitutional education system for our kids…

Or the status quo on higher ed, where we rank 49th in the nation in state investment…

We can’t afford to let our neighboring states invest several times more than we do in economic development…

We need to step up for those who are most vulnerable in our system and show them that we give a damn.

We need to get more stuff done together for Pennsylvanians.

To be clear, my budget is balanced.

It does not raise taxes – in fact it cuts them.

Consider this, even if we funded every single one of the initiatives I talked about today and contained in my budget, we would still have an 11 billion dollar surplus at the end of June 2025.

11 billion dollars!

While I expect you will carefully analyze my proposals and seek your own in the final budget, your analysis shouldn’t be used as an excuse for paralysis.

It’s time to solve these pressing problems, to meet this moment responsibly and with bipartisan compromise.

Let’s take inspiration from this grand Rotunda.

I mentioned that mural of Penn’s ships earlier, depicting the founding of our Commonwealth.

But there is another mural next to it, on the north side of the Rotunda…

The Spirit of Vulcan, which shows the Roman god of the forge working a blast furnace, in honor of our Commonwealth’s mastery of iron and steel.

That mural, painted at the height of Pennsylvania’s industrial wealth and prominence, reminds us of that history.

It reminds us of an era when our Commonwealth fueled the industrial revolution – lifting people out of poverty, powering the middle class, and creating the American labor movement.

It reminds us that when fascism threatened freedom overseas, it was our Commonwealth that was home to the arsenal of democracy and the most powerful manufacturing base in the world.

Our kids read about those things in our history books, they’re depicted on these murals…

But I don’t want them to just be inspired by our past.

I want them to be hopeful for their future.

Just last week, I visited a vestige of the old Pennsylvania.

A place where Pennsylvania workers felt that spirit of Vulcan as they produced the steel that helped us win World War II and built our skylines and bridges.

Today, Mill 19 is once again a driving force of prosperity and progress.

Progress that’s growing out of unique partnerships and building the next big thing in robotics and biotech that will shape our future and change lives.

So when I walk these halls and I see these depictions of our past, I can’t help but feel optimistic about our future.

A future we will build together, staying true to the words and creed of Penn as we work to do what is truly wise and just.

Thank you.