“Senate Bill 1466 (Corman-R-Centre) will provide substantial restorations to certain areas of the Governor’s proposed budget that reflect the fiscal realities that we have today. Increased revenues over the past few months allowed us to alter what the Governor had initially proposed back in February, including significant restorations to higher education, basic education, early childhood funding, and social service funding,” Sen. Corman said.
General Fund spending for Fiscal Year 2012-13, as proposed in Senate Bill 1466, is $27.656 billion, $517.2 million, or 1.9 percent more than the Governor’s budget request in February.
“This budget, which is sustainable and balanced, reflects less than a 2 percent increase over last year, and is still less than the budget passed in 2008,” said Sen. Corman. “The budget reaffirms our commitment to keeping spending in line with revenues, and continues to acknowledge that we cannot increase the burden on taxpayers.”
Senate Bill 1466 reaffirms Senate Republican’s commitment to providing Pennsylvania’s young people with a quality education from the youngest ages through their college years, Corman stressed. Senate Bill 1466 maintains state support for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, State System of Higher Education schools and community colleges at their current levels.
“The significant restorations to higher education get funding back to last year’s level,” Sen. Corman said. “With our commitment to higher education, we have received commitments from the three presidents of Penn State, Pitt and Temple, as well as the chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, that the full restoration will give them the ability to keep tuition increases to a minimum, at most no higher than the Consumer Price Index. That will be significant to the families and students around Pennsylvania and a refreshing change for them to see a smaller tuition increase.”
The budget bill also includes additional support for local school districts over what the Governor proposed in February. Senate Bill 1466 adds more than $132 million in support for basic education, Accountability Block Grants and early childhood education programs over the February proposal.
Senate Bill 1466 also reinvests significant funding to help counties and local agencies provide essential social and health services to Pennsylvanians with physical and mental disabilities, senior citizens and families.
The bill restores $84 million in funding for the various programs that would be bundled under the Governor’s proposed Human Services Development Block Grant. Under his proposal, funding for multiple county administered programs would be consolidated into a single block grant.
Senate Bill 1466 restores $20 million in funding for vital Community Mental Retardation and Intellectual Disability programs that assist thousands of Pennsylvanians and their families on a daily basis.
A summary and Senate Fiscal Note on Senate Bill 1466 are available. A more detailed summary of the changes is available in a prior PA Capitol Digest Blog posting.
Following Senate passage of a $27.6 billion budget plan, Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Minority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the plan a step towards a budget that truly reflects the needs of all Pennsylvania’s citizens. The plan restores over $500 million to the budget proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett.
“Senate Democrats have said for months that budget cuts do not have to be as deep as proposed by Governor Corbett in his February budget address,” Sen. Hughes said. “I am pleased that my Republican colleagues in the Senate have heard our message and included many of our budget priorities in this proposal. This is the first step of many in the budget process and this spending plan moves us forward in crafting a budget plan that significantly reflects the priorities of Pennsylvanians.”
Although there is progress, Sen. Hughes expressed his disappointment of the lack of funding for General Assistance, transition grants which are used mainly by abused women, disabled individuals and children without custodial parents.
He also expressed concern regarding the level of funding for Child Care Services and there is still no plan to restore adultBasic or important job creation programs.
“We remain very concerned about what is not included in this budget, especially the cuts to General Assistance funding,” Sen. Hughes added. “This is a critical lifeline to many vulnerable people. As revenues continue to improve, we will continue to fight for a full restoration of this funding in addition to other key investments to grow Pennsylvania’s economy and boost job creation.
“We still have a distance to go before we reach a final budget that is representative of the needs of all Pennsylvania citizens,” Sen. Hughes said. “This budget is a good document, not a great one. This is a step forward.”
The bill now goes to the House for consideration, however, the state Constitution requires budget and tax bills to originate in the House. The current fiscal year ends on June 30.