AdultBasic expired March 1, leaving more than 40,000 low-income and jobless Pennsylvanians lost basic health care as a result of the program’s cessation. Corbett’s administration held former governor Ed Rendell accountable for the 10-year-old program’s bankruptcy, stating that he should have never extended the program last year. “It’s unfortunate that Governor Rendell never lived up to his commitment. But the fact is, it’s unsustainable, and there’s no money in the budget for it,” spokesperson Kevin Harley said.
Striking much controversy, Gov. Corbett introduced a $27.3 billion budget to a joint session of the House and Senate on March 8, vowing no new taxes but nearly $900 million in spending cuts. Education took one of the biggest hits overall, and the backlash was immediate and plentiful. Protesters around the state called out their dismay, particularly those pursuing higher education– the Commonwealth’s four state-affiliated schools braced for budget cuts around 50 percent.
“Education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession,” Corbett said in his address yesterday. “We need to change the whole system. We need a new set of priorities: child, parent and teacher — and in that order,” Corbett said.
The budget didn’t consist entirely of cuts, though. Corbett proposed adding 230 new state troopers to balance future retirements, along with $10 million to the state police. Welfare and health funding also got a funding boost.
Stirring much conversation, the governor is a strong proponent of using the state’s gas reserve to help pull the state out of debt. “What Pennsylvanians will gain is the jobs, the spinoffs, and if we don’t scare off these industries with new taxes, the follow-up that comes along,” Gov. Corbett said during his budget address. “Let’s make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom. I’m determined that Pennsylvania not lose this moment. We have the chance to get it right the first time, the chance to grow our way out of hard days.”
Also, he repeatedly voiced his opposition to a severance tax, making Pennsylvania the only state with no such fee where drilling is taking place. However, he reassured a crowd in suburban Pittsburgh Tuesday that he would strictly enforce environmental regulation and oppose forced pooling.
Finally, the governor signed his first bill into law Monday. The legislation repeals a law that all homes built in the state would require a sprinkler system. Corbett said the call to install sprinkler systems is up to the homeowner and would avoid higher housing prices. He said he is “looking forward to more bills coming, and to a budget on time,” the Post-Gazette reported.
To mark the governor’s100-day anniversary, The Pennsylvania Democratic Party took their own approach to “celebrate.” The group sent out a blast e-mail asking for “gift” contributions. Among the list of are a Brita filter “to clear out all that fracking fluid he’s letting seep into our wells;” a “Corbett adultBasic-Replacement First Aid Kit” equipped with “6 tongue depressors and 2 extra-small bandaids;” and a $50 donation to rent a room for a town hall meeting.