Note: Sharon Ward has more on the budget in a blog post here.
Legislative leaders released line item details of the 2012-13 state budget today. The plan largely resembles a budget bill passed by the Senate last month, with a few exceptions.
Most notably, it does not include a plan, backed by Governor Corbett and included in the earlier Senate budget, to pool funding for seven separate county services into a new block grant. Representative Gene DiGirolamo led a coalition in the House opposed to that concept. The budget still makes significant cuts to county mental health services, homeless assistance and services for people with intellectual disabilities.
The budget also proceeds with a plan to eliminate the state's General Assistance Program, which provides a modest monthly benefit to 68,000 temporarily disabled adults. Over the years, General Assistance has provided a bridge to a better life for thousands of Pennsylvanians dealing with a temporary health issue, completing treatment or escaping an abuser.
On education, the plan does not include the Governor’s proposed student achievement block grant, maintaining the original line items for basic education, pupil transportation, employee Social Security and services to non-public schools. Deep education cuts enacted last year remain largely intact, although basic education funding is increased by $49 million over last year. Accountability block grants (supporting full-day kindergarten and other early childhood programs) will be flat-funded at $100 million.
The budget also restores higher education funding to current year levels, after the governor proposed cuts of 20% to 30%.
We will have more details of the budget on Wednesday. In the meantime, go to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's web site to download budget tables.