House GOP Proposes $29.1 Billion Spending Plan [Updated]
Pennsylvania Republican House members proposed a $29.1 billion spending plan for the 2014 fiscal year, a budget leaner than that originally introduced by Gov. Tom Corbett.
The Governor proposed a $29.4 billion spending plan which seeks to create a balanced budget with no tax increases for a third consecutive year.
House GOP leadership has trimmed the spending plan further, and curtailed the public school funding increase to ensure that the state meets its scheduled pension payments.
Proposing a 1.9% spending increase of $536 million, a $315 million reduction from Corbett’s February proposal, PA GOP members wish to spend conservatively.
Members such as House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) are actively advocating for state liquor privatization. Selling state liquor stores and licenses to private business owners could create $380 million in new revenue according to proponents, and help to fund the proposed budget.
Senate leaders are currently struggling to amass the necessary votes for liquor privatization.
Nevertheless, the budget proposal includes neither tax increases nor natural gas extraction tax on Pennsylvania’s abundant Marcellus Shale resource.
The state will gain $75 million in Oil & Gas Lease Fund Money, after Governor Corbett’s executive order allowing non-surface impact drilling on state forest and park land.
Corbett’s $340 million “Ready to Learn” Block grant did not make the cut in the most recent spending plan.
House Democrats strongly object to the proposed budget, claiming that the $100 million funding increases to education is not enough. They also think that the increase in funding to human services is not adequate.
The new fiscal year begins July 1, and the full PA House of Representatives will consider the proposed budget before that date.
Update: The State House Appropriations Committee approved the plan this morning on a 21-14 party-line vote.