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Five Advocacy Tips for the Pennsylvania Budget Address

Tomorrow, Governor Josh Shapiro will give his first budget address. The address will kick off months of hearings and debates about what will be in the final budget. How should Pennsylvania advocacy organizations and campaigns approach the day of the budget address, and how should they think about the next few months? Here are five quick tips.

  1. It’s the Beginning, Not the End - The governor’s budget address kicks off the start of the advocacy season. Ideally, you’ve already started to build your campaign plan, develop your coalition, and introduce your priorities to key stakeholders. Still, the budget address is the start of the legislative process, especially this year. If your priority doesn’t make it into the speech or the budget book, there is still a lot of time to make your case. Save any harsh words you might have if your plan isn’t in the budget, and get to work on outreach.

  2. Getting Attention on Budget Day is Tough - Tomorrow will be all about the governor, the legislative response, and one or two main issues. You should have statements and content ready for the day of the budget address, but don’t get discouraged if you seem to get drowned out.

  3. Watch What Lawmakers and Decision Makers Say in Response - Monitor what lawmakers and decision-makers say in response to the governor’s budget proposal. Their comments, criticisms, and concerns should guide some of your strategy over the next few months. Update your plans and strategy accordingly.

  4. Use the Address and Proposal to Activate Stakeholders - Most people are not engaged in what goes on in Harrisburg. Use the budget address to activate your coalition and stakeholders to tell the story about your priorities and outline what you need from them.

  5. Activate Your Communications Plan for Key Decision-makers - With a budget proposal on the table, now is the time to communicate in more detail with key decision-makers like legislators, the administration, and coalition members. Is your idea in the budget? Explain why it should stay. Was it excluded? Start talking about how it fits in with the themes and priorities of the administration and legislature and argue for its inclusion. Hopefully, you already have a communications plan. Start to activate it. Plan your outreach, whether it is earned media, paid media, or direct contact. Make sure that your asks are clear and relevant. Start planning events, media, or activations that they will see and align with your goals and audiences.

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