Senate Dems Release Rival Budget

Costa Senate Dems budget
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa. Source: senatorcosta.com

At $28.4 billion the Senate Democratic budget is larger than both Governor Corbett’s and the Republican’s budget.

“The difference between what our caucus is putting out today and what you’ve seen from the Republicans is really the difference between a budget based on maths and a budget based on myths,” said Senator Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin).

That tagline puts a lot of faith in the ability of the Senate Dems though to sway votes and minds. The budget they are proposing includes a $154 million savings though the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act. This is a move which the Governor’s office has previously stated likely will not take place this year.

The Republican budget, totaling $28.3 billion, does not include projections on the expansion of Medicaid either. The governor’s budget is only $56 million less than the Democrats’.

“As far as the numbers are concerned, we have not dwelled on those numbers because the governor has not made his decision yet,” House Majority Chair of the Appropriations Committee Rep. Bill Adolph said last week.

Within the Democrats’ budget, Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said liquor privatization becomes liquor modernization.

“Our priority is reforming the current system and taking the handcuffs off if you will, allowing the system to modernize and not privatize. Doing so will provide benefits to the consumers and at the same time the system as a whole while protecting nearly 10,000 family sustaining jobs,” Costa said.

The focus on job creation was the Democrats’ recurring theme throughout the budget presentation in the Capitol Monday. Costa boasted their budget “could generate 120,000 jobs quickly” through the Medicaid expansion, transportation spending and a variety of tax incentives to industries such as film production and aviation.

Dems also sought to increase funding to education as another pillar of their party’s proposal.

“Our presentation here represents the first step in a three year reinvestment to get education back in where it should be in Pennsylvania,” stated Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Vincent Hughes (D-Phila).

This reinvestment proposal includes $212 million for education, $39 million of which will go to distressed school districts.

Without control of the House or Senate the Democrats will have a tough time making major changes to budget planning. On Monday in a party line vote the Republican budget passed through the House Appropriations Committee. In addition to a starting bargaining position, the Senate Democrats’ budget represents the kind of contrast the party wants to draw with the GOP.

Negotiations will continue all month ahead of the June 30th deadline.

2 Responses

  1. Reasonable Rep forgets one difference — we have a PLCB already in place. The question isn’t “should we open a fast food restaurant”, it’s what is the best way of changing the PLCB to best serve all Pa interests? Better service, convenience, and selection? Continued regulation of alcohol (a dangerous drug)? Maximizing tax revenues on an on-going basis? Separation of enforcement from sales? These are the questions to be asked. If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, what will a statewide liquor system look like if designed by the State Legislature? I’m not worried about the jobs of State workers, I’m worried about the Legislature designing anything other than taking the handcuffs off the PLCB. If a competitive PLCB can’t do it, we’ll have a history of their successes/failures to build on.

  2. I shake my head at the completely illogical argument that begins (and ends) with “protecting nearly 10,000 family sustaining jobs.”  By refusing to consider the nature of the public service being provided, the left would have you believe that the Commonwealth should be running the fast food restaurants, the movie theaters or really ANY industry so long as they can overpay the employees (at the expense of everyone else).

    It’s a completely legitimate position that the Commonwealth should provide social safety nets of varying degrees to benefit lower income folks…I acknowledge that.  But be up front and specific about your stance on economic redistribution instead of a political coward.  Don’t trumpet this BS about creating wealth for workers through state monopolies as if there is no overhead cost to the public.

    This debate shouldn’t be complicated.  The attributable benefits for PA’s 12.75 million people either warrant government involvement in liquor sales, or they do not.  Simple as that.  Potential pay-cuts or career changes for 10K state employees should have little if any place in the dialogue.     

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