As a result of changes in the management of the Lottery, changes publicly discussed over nine months and explained in public hearings both last April and last month, we can meet the future needs of our seniors.
Because of these changes, in this budget alone, we are now able to add $50 million dollars for our senior programs.
This money will expand care for older Pennsylvanians in their homes and communities.
It will help to modernize programs at centers.
It will, in short, keep the promise we made to older Pennsylvanians the day the Lottery sold its first ticket.
While we work to honor our commitment to older Pennsylvanians, we must not forget our obligations to another one of Pennsylvania’s precious resources - our agricultural community.
A few weeks ago, a record number of people visited the Pennsylvania Farm Show. They were making a bit of history, while exploring an industry that is at once part of our future as well as a vital tradition.
Our agriculture exports now approach $1.7 billion dollars annually.
Farming in Pennsylvania is a business but it remains, inherently, a family business.
Centuries ago families who left their native countries began farming the fields of William Penn’s colony. Today, their descendants do the same.
Every time a plow cuts into the soil of Pennsylvania, it deepens the roots of our heritage. We must keep it that way.
That is why we worked together last year to end the inheritance tax on family farm land.
The value of land for housing and commercial centers is very high. The value of the tradition and contribution of agriculture on that same land is beyond calculation.
No farming family should have to bury their father or mother and their way of life at the same time. Nor should we lose our farm land to uncontrolled development.
That is why my budget contains more than $35 million dollars to fund the nation’s best farmland preservation program.
It offers $10 million dollars to continue a system of tax credits for the Resource Enhancement Protection Program that rewards farmers for best environmental and management practices.
This budget also continues funding for four more Agricultural programs:
- $17 million to fund the state Food Purchase Program providing critical help to Pennsylvanians who are at risk of having too little to eat;
- The PennVET program at the University of Pennsylvania;
- The agricultural research program at Penn State; and,
- In keeping with a pledge I made when I first sought this office, we are increasing our commitment to county fairs by putting forward $2.5 million to fund them.
We understand that any event that brings farming people together results in progress.
One of the greatest challenges we continue to confront as Pennsylvanians is the threat of crime.
Public safety remains a top priority in my administration. Without safety society cannot long endure.
That is why, once again, I have announced plans for new cadet classes at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy. Over the next fiscal year we plan to train 290 new state troopers to protect and defend our citizens and our rule of law.
We will also add 90 new civilian dispatchers, freeing our troopers to get out on the roads and into our communities, where they are most needed.