July 10, 2014

Gov. Corbett Cuts Senate, House Funding $72.2 Million, Reviewing Options On Pensions

Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday he has signed the FY 2014-15 state budget and the Fiscal Code bill, but bluelined (cut) $72.2 million in funding going to the Senate and House saying they need to participate in being financially responsible to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
The $72.2 million cut to the General Assembly includes $65 million in their general appropriations and $7.2 million in legislatively designated spending.
Click Here for a spreadsheet showing itemized list of cuts.
The Governor also called again on the General Assembly to stand up to unions and work for the people of Pennsylvania and enact meaningful pension reform.  Plans that only include elected officials (like the Senate passed) and other limited measures are failing taxpayers.
He added he is reviewing other options, including calling a special session, to get the General Assembly to enact pension reform.
In his remarks, Gov. Corbett pointed out the General Assembly gave themselves a 2 percent increase in funding in the budget they passed, including charging taxpayers $5 million more for parking, and refused to use any of their $150 million surplus to help balance the budget.  
Corbett also said the General Assembly filled the budget with other legislatively designated spending.
“As they did in the last three budgets, agencies sharpened their pencils, set priorities, and spent what they had – not what they wished they had,” said Corbett. “We made tough decisions so that funding for critical programs and services that benefit the people of Pennsylvania would go unharmed. It is what I promised the people of Pennsylvania I would do, and, frankly, it is what they expect and deserve from their state government.
“The same, however, cannot be said for the General Assembly,” he noted.
“While I am pleased they supported my priorities in this budget − investing more money into our children’s education, reducing waiting lists for services for people living with disabilities, and increasing access to health care in rural and underserved areas of Pennsylvania – the final budget they sent me, coupled with their failure to address critical challenges facing our state, cause me great concern,” Corbett added.
“Facing a $1.5 billion deficit and struggling to provide adequate funding for essential programs, the General Assembly instead chose to increase their own $330 million budget by 2 percent. It is charging the taxpayers an additional $5 million to pay for its parking,” Corbett said. “It refuses to use any of its own six-month surplus – $150 million in taxpayer-funded budgetary reserves – to help with the budget gap. It filled the budget with earmarks driven by high-powered lobbyists. And it refused to deal with the biggest fiscal challenge facing Pennsylvania: our public pensions.
“For this reason, I am forcing mutual sacrifice with the General Assembly through the governor’s ability to line-item veto and hold spending in budgetary reserve. Today, I am item vetoing $65 million in General Assembly spending and an additional $7.2 million in legislative-designated spending,” Corbett explained.
In response to a question about enactment of a new cigarette tax in Philadelphia to help the school district, Gov. Corbett said he wants to see it enacted, but noted everyone is stepping up in Philadelphia but the teacher’s union.  He said he found it “unfathomable” that in 498 school districts in Pennsylvania teachers contribute to funding their health care.  In Philadelphia they don’t.
The following items were blued by the Governor--
General Assembly
-- Senate - $31.3 million
-- House - 20.1 million
-- Legislative Service Agencies - $13.6 million
Dept. of General Services
-- Rental & Municipal Charges - $5 million
Dept. of Labor & Industry
-- General Govt. Operations - $250,000
Dept. of Military & Veterans Affairs
-- Civil Air Patrol - $100,000, new total zero
Dept.  of Environmental Protection
-- Sewage Facilities Planning Grants - $700,000, new total is zero
-- Environmental Program Management - $150,000, new total- $28.5 million
Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources
-- Heritage Parks Program - $500,000, new total- $2.25 million
The Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 278 (Baker-R-Tioga)-- implementing the budget which included provisions creating a new community college and regulating conventional oil and gas well separately from Marcellus Shale wells was signed with no changes.
A detailed summary and House Fiscal Note are available.
Click Here for a copy of the Governor’s budget press release.