Governor's Budget Does Little to Undo Damage of Last Two Years

In case you missed the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's media statement on Governor Corbett's 2013-14 budget proposal this week, I pass it on to you below. It provides a nice overview of the various components of the Governor's budget. If you want more specifics, read our detailed 13-page budget analysis here.

The governor’s budget does little to reduce the trend of disinvestment in Pennsylvania schools and communities. It relies heavily on speculative and one-time sources of funding, and proposes expensive new corporate tax breaks that will continue to shift costs to local taxpayers. The budget fails to provide sustainable funding to reduce class sizes in public schools, keep college affordable for middle-class students, and ensure working families can obtain basic health care.

K-12 EDUCATION

The governor’s budget will add only 1.7 percent to the basic education subsidy, doing little to reverse $840 million in education cuts 2 years ago. A new block grant, called "Passport for Learning," is entirely speculative, relying on liquor privatization that has failed to pass the General Assembly twice. The governor has an obligation to today's students to restore cuts that affect their lives and livelihoods. Progress on education funding should not be dependent on the outcome of other political debates.

Many education funding increases are also conditioned on pension savings and, therefore, are in jeopardy. Lawmakers did not respond with applause to the governor’s pension plan during his budget address, suggesting those savings may be hard to come by.

HIGHER EDUCATION

The proposed higher education budget locks in cuts made in 2011. Students in Pennsylvania pay relatively high tuition and graduate with significant debt. Keeping college affordable is not a ‘nice to have’ but a key public responsibility.”

CORPORATE TAX BREAKS

The budget commits the commonwealth to large new tax cuts for profitable corporations, which will undermine the next governor's ability to fund education and health care. Gov. Corbett failed to even mention the tax cuts in his budget address, reflecting the unpopularity of this approach with the general public. The governor presented no plan to close corporate tax loopholes.”

HEALTH CARE

The governor’s short-sighted decision to reject an opportunity to expand health coverage through Medicaid to more low-income working people is a departure from other Republican governors in states like Arizona and Ohio. One of the best ways to reduce health care costs is to expand health coverage so that fewer people are showing up in ERs with serious and expensive illnesses. Research studies have also concluded that Medicaid improves health outcomes.

It is a clear statement of priorities that the governor is willing to spend hundreds of million on hidden corporate tax cuts but refuses to spend far less to expand Medicaid, which would draw down billions in federal funds annually.

TRANSPORTATION

Gov. Corbett understands the necessity of investing in transportation and raising taxes to do so, yet he has failed to make similar investments in other key components of the economy.

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