By Tom Shaheen

State lawmakers approved “Part 2” of the 2020-2021 state budget in a rare post-election legislative session last week. The $35.5 billion budget includes no new taxes as lawmakers filled budget gaps using the state’s remaining $1.3 billion in federal coronavirus funds to supplement revenue.

The good news – with help from action by families across the Commonwealth in partnership with the Pennsylvania Family Council, this budget stayed clear of the three main threats we were fighting this year.

No new gambling.

A proposal to infest Pennsylvania communities with thousands of video slot machines (called Video Gaming Terminals or VGTs) was not included in the final state budget. On top of the thousands of slot machines in Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar casinos, these slot machines would be permitted in pizza parlors, gas stations and bars across the state. Pennsylvania is also still trying to implement the massive and harmful changes made in 2017 to expand gambling, which included more brick-and-mortar casinos and online gambling.

For more about these addictive slot machines, read the op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette from PFI’s Dan Bartkowiak.

No marijuana legalization.

Despite the heightened pressure this fall by Lt. Governor Fetterman and Governor Tom Wolf to pass harmful marijuana legalization, it gained little traction with lawmakers (so far). Big Tobacco and other out-of-state special interest groups continue to pressure the legislature to commercialize the sale of highly-potent, addictive marijuana products that would be marketed on social media and often in ways that appeal to children.

To learn more about the impact of state marijuana legalization and the truths about marijuana, visit

No new funding for Planned Parenthood.

The House and Senate leaders wisely rejected the additional $3 million Planned Parenthood that Gov. Wolf included in his proposed budget back in February. The largest abortion business in Pennsylvania, profiting from carrying out half of all abortions in our state, should not be given millions in extra funding on the backs of Pennsylvania taxpayers. 

For more about the activities of Planned Parenthood and the state of abortion in Pennsylvania, visit

These three takeaways are news we can be thankful for this year. Looking ahead, the pressure to pass each of these harmful proposals will only increase next year. Please stay connected to our work and be ready to take necessary actions in 2021.

Tom Shaheen is Vice President for Policy at the Pennsylvania Family Council.