This afternoon Republicans and some Democrats passed a $28.4 billion state budget plan. It increases overall spending by 2.3% over the current year. A large portion of that increase in funding is specifically for teacher pensions.
“This year’s budget reaffirms our commitment to fiscal restraint and fiscal responsibility by investing in key areas such as education and public safety, while also keeping spending in line,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Jake Corman (R-Centre). “I think a lot of good is going to come out of this budget because it equally recognizes the burden of government spending on taxpayers.”
The deadline is midnight for an on-time budget, one of Gov. Tom Corbett’s top priorities. The plan now moves on to the state House.
Funding was set aside for new State Troopers, school defensive measures against active shooters, and the Attorney General’s effort to prosecute child predators.
The bill’s dollar amount is less than Governor Corbett’s proposed budget by $65 million. That difference comes from Senate Republicans assuming a less burdensome pension cost than the Governor for the upcoming fiscal year.
Corman (R-Centre) told the Patriot-News that he felt funding levels were appropriate.
“We’ve done what the private sector is doing,” Corman said. “We’d all like to be Santa Claus and give everybody a little bit of everything. But unfortunately, at the end of the day, we’ve got to be responsible and spend what we have.”
The vote tally was 33 to 17 with full GOP support.
6 Democratic Senators voted yes, too: Lisa Boscola (Northampton), Jay Costa (Allegheny), Jim Ferlo (Allegheny), Tony Williams (Phila), John Wozniak (Cambria), and John Yudichak (Luzerne).
“While the budget doesn’t include everything I’ve advocated for, I voted for the bill because it has a number of wins for Pennsylvanians,” Wozniak said.
The AP reported that Democrats who were not in support of the bill said that they did not feel the bill provided enough for public education and wanted to delay business tax cuts to get extra revenues.
Sen. Mike Stack (D-Phila) cited education for his ‘no’ vote.
This budget restores a tiny fraction of Gov. Corbett’s original reckless budget cuts. School districts will continue their game of budget musical chairs, and when the music stops – whether its cuts or tax increases – the ultimate losers in this situation are students,” he said.