Governor Tom Corbett celebrated, “an on-time budget for the first time in nine years” and closing a difficult deficit without raising taxes in 2011. But 500 days into his term, Democrats are slamming him for the budget he proposed this year.
Defending his 2012-2013 budget, the Corbett Administration sent out a “Top Five Proposed Budget Myths” email, responding to four criticisms on his handling of education funding and one criticism on his elimination of Democrat-backed cash assistance funding.
On Corbett’s 500th day in office (May 31), the House Democratic Caucus issued with a fact sheet seeking to refute Corbett’s own defenses.
“Today is Day 500 of Tom Corbett’s term as governor. While a few of those days were good days for the governor, overall it has been a rocky time for him and the state he is trying to lead,” said House Democratic Caucus Press Secretary Bill Paton. “The people of Pennsylvania are underwhelmed.”
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley called the list “word games,” and noted the administration’s accomplishments to date.
“Governor Tom Corbett is a month away from signing a second state budget that doesn’t raise taxes on Pennsylvania families, reduces the size and cost of state government and spends more on basic education than any budget in Pennsylvania history,” Harley said. He also noted some specific wins for the Governor.
“Private sector employment is on the rise and manufacturing is making a comeback. The shipyard in Philadelphia is abuzz with work and the energy fields of the southwest are about to welcome a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant.”
Here is Corbett’s email:
MYTH #1: Pennsylvania spends more money building prisons than building schools.
FACT: In the proposed budget, more than $10.7 billion is dedicated to education in Pennsylvania. For the first time in ten years, the proposed budget contains no increases for the Department of Corrections. The budget does include approximately $600 million in prison construction, $400 million of which was committed prior to Governor Corbett taking office. This overall amount is small in comparison to the more than $10 billion the Governor has committed to investing in education.
MYTH #2: The reductions in higher education funding will cause universities to raise tuition.
FACT: Schools themselves have shown this not to be true. From 1999 to 2011, Penn State, Temple, and the University of Pittsburgh received a combined $7.2 billion in state funding. During that same time period, tuition at these institutions rose an average of 130 percent. The funding reductions proposed for the state-related and state-owned schools amount to an approximate 1.5 to 3.8 percent reduction in their overall operating budgets. These small percentages are something that should be overcome through cost containment instead of reflexive tuition increases. The Governor is urging these institutions to examine how they spend their money instead of balancing their budgets on the backs of students and families.
MYTH #3: The proposed budget reduces funding for K-12 education and will force school districts to raise property taxes.
FACT: The more than $9.3 billion in state funding the Governor has proposed for K-12 education is the highest in the history of Pennsylvania, with every school district in the commonwealth seeing an increase. Visit investinginpastudents.com to find out how much Governor Corbett is investing in your kids and find out if your school district has money in its reserve fund it could use to offset its increasing costs. Additionally, Governor Corbett, just last year, took action to make sure you have more say in when, and if, your property taxes are increased. He signed historic reform that requires proposed increases to be put on the ballot for residents to decide.
MYTH #4: The elimination of cash assistance will mainly hurt children and victims of domestic abuse.
FACT: The primary recipients of cash assistance are single, childless adults and constitute 1 percent of the overall public assistance population. The elimination of this program allows the administration to save the state funded medical assistance program which provides medical services to the same population. Currently, almost 39 cents of every state taxpayer dollar supports our public assistance programs, yet costs of the system continue to escalate faster than our economy and the rate of poverty. We must take steps now to contain costs or these programs will be jeopardized in the future.
MYTH #5: The proposed budget reduces funding for the arts.
FACT: Both last year and this year, Governor Corbett protected funding for the arts in Pennsylvania, investing more than $8 million in arts grants throughout the commonwealth.
This is the Dems’ response: