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Gov. Tom Wolf Signs $40B Budget Package, Touts Public School Funding

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed a roughly $40 billion budget package that passed last week, as he touted the importance of new funding for public schools.

The hundreds of pages of budget legislation emerged publicly from closed-door negotiations on Friday and won approval within hours in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The package holds the line on taxes, and puts billions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid into reserve for the coming years.

Smaller amounts in federal aid went to help nursing homes, speed up highway construction projects and expand public school learning programs for children whose educations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wolf, a Democrat, is touting $300 million extra for school district operations and instruction, including the unique idea of setting aside $100 million of that strictly for school districts historically disadvantaged by how Pennsylvania distributes aid to schools. More than half the money will go to Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading, combined.

Wolf called it a "life-changing investment for students," although he acknowledged that much more needs to be done for public schools.

In exchange, Republicans won Wolf's agreement to repeal a regulation to expand the ranks of lower-wage salaried workers who must receive time-and-a-half pay for any time they work over 40 hours in a week. The regulation was to take effect in October.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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