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Now-governor Josh Shapiro speaks at a campaign rally in Philadelphia on Oct. 21, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro presented his 2024-25 budget proposal on Feb. 6, aiming to address a wide range of issues including economic opportunity, education, public safety, and health care.

Shapiro proposed a budget of $48.3 billion for his second year in office — an 8.4% increase from his budget proposal for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The proposal allocates billions of dollars to address the funding gaps in public schools, invest in higher education, and enhance support for public transit.

College sophomore and President of Penn Democrats Ellie Goluboff-Schragger expressed the organization’s continued support for Shapiro in the second year of his gubernatorial term. Penn Dems endorsed his candidacy in the 2022 election. 

“It’s exciting to see that he is putting his money where his mouth is, following up on campaign promises and putting money toward them,” Goluboff-Schragger said to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

City councilmember Jamie Gauthier — who represents Philadelphia's third district, which includes Penn — said she was enthusiastic about support for multiple programs that serve local communities. 

“Gov. Shapiro correctly recognizes that this is the moment to invest in our communities,” Gauthier, who graduated from Penn in 2004 with a master’s in city planning from the School of Design, wrote in a statement to the DP. “I am particularly excited by the increase in funding for our public schools, SEPTA, gun violence prevention, the Whole-Home Repairs Program, and neighborhood commercial corridors.”

The DP looked closely at four aspects of Shapiro's proposal with potential significant impacts on the Penn community — education, public transportation, marijuana legalization, and human services.


A highlight of Shapiro’s budget is the substantial increase in education funding, including $1.86 billion toward preschool and K-12 education — $872 million of which is specifically allocated for the state’s poorest districts in response to a 2023 court ruling on the unconstitutionality of Pennsylvania’s school funding system. Additional provisions cover student-teacher stipends, mental health counseling, special education, and school construction. 

Shapiro proposed an increase in state spending on higher education, for which Pennsylvania is currently among the lowest in the nation. A proposed $279 million investment is intended to enhance higher education assistance grants and decrease state school tuition.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Krajewski (D-Philadelphia) — who represents Penn in the state House — expressed support for the budget’s focus on public universities. 

“I’m excited to be helping those public universities make sure they get the state support that they need to provide affordable accessible education to low-income and working-class Pennsylvanians,” Krajewski said. 

In the proposal, Shapiro also allocated funding for Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Penn Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases as a nonpreferred appropriation, despite the state’s withholding of funding last year over antisemitism concerns.

Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization

Shapiro’s budget calls for a 20% tax on legal marijuana. The budget anticipates that the establishment of an adult-use cannabis industry in the state could generate $14.8 million in tax revenue during its inaugural year. 

The budget further outlines plans for legalization by the start of the upcoming fiscal year on July 1, with licensed shops scheduled to initiate sales by Jan. 1, 2025.

Krajewski voiced support for the legalization of cannabis, emphasizing the importance of addressing the impact of past criminalization and prioritizing racial justice and equity. 

The budget proposes allocating $5 million from the revenue generated by adult-use cannabis toward restorative justice initiatives. A further $5 million is earmarked for operational expenses, $2 million for enforcement, and $500,000 for administering the program.

Shapiro's proposal follows the legalization of cannabis in every state neighboring Pennsylvania — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio — except for West Virginia.

Public Transportation

Shapiro announced that his administration is ready to boost its investment in SEPTA by $161 million, addressing an anticipated budget shortfall when pandemic funds expire in July for Philadelphia's transit system. 

“Investing in and improving our public transit systems is a commonsense way to create good-paying jobs, spur economic development, and help Pennsylvanians reach their destinations safely,” Shapiro said in a statement.

The proposed budget contains a 1.75% increase in transit funding, which is projected to generate almost $1.5 billion over five years. If approved in budget deliberations, Shapiro’s budget will mark the largest increase in SEPTA’s state funding in over a decade.

Human Services

The budget allocates $50 million to address the growing concern over the affordability of health insurance, including funding to specifically target medical debt.

Additional funding lays out specific measures to combat gun violence, including auditing gun retailers and expanding after-school programs. The proposed budget for the Department of State designates $5 million to engage directly with voters, disseminate accurate information, diminish the knowledge gap related to voting, and facilitate the updating of voter rolls. 

“This year, we have a real chance to build safer communities, become more competitive economically, and invest in our students and their success — and this budget lays out a comprehensive and aggressive focus on doing just that,” Shapiro wrote in a statement released by the governor’s office. 

However, Republicans have widely expressed discontent with the increased spending. Republicans currently control Pennsylvania's state Senate.  

"At face value, the governor’s proposal spends well beyond the state’s means," state Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Fulton), the Republican chair of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee, wrote in a press release. 

Penn Dems expressed support for Shapiro's concern for a wide range of issues within the proposal.  

“The fact that he has included all this in his budget proposal and intends to fight for all the things that he included is a testament to his integrity as an elected official,” College first year and Penn Dems Communications Director Steve Yang said.