Harrisburg – June 29, 2012 – The state Senate passed a revised $27.65 billion state budget today that includes a number of initiatives authored by Senate Democrats and $775 million more for key line items above Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget, state Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said today.
Costa voted in favor of the budget bill. The measure cleared the Senate on 32-17 vote.
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“The revised state budget includes funding that Senate Democrats sought for Accountability Block Grants, higher education and mortgage protection,” Costa said. “Significantly, the plan is a stark departure from the harsh budget proposed by Gov. Corbett in February.
“The plan does not increase taxes and resources are stretched to try and cover some critical needs.”
Costa said that the governor’s plan called for a $267 million cut for higher education, the stripping of funds for specialized hospital services, human service programs and no new real dollars for education.
“The final budget includes more dollars for Accountability Block Grants and a rollback of severe budget cuts that were part of the governor’s budget outline,” Costa said.
“If the governor’s plan were rubber-stamped, school districts, hospitals, social services and many other vulnerable programs would be in jeopardy.”
The final budget nearly flat funds basic education but adds $100 million for Accountability Block Grants, $50 million for distressed schools and funding for hospital services such as obstetric and neonatal care, trauma, burn centers and critical-care access. It also adds another $25 million for education tax credits already created in law and provides another $50 million for a new tax credit program to help students in underperforming schools.
Despite voting in favor of the plan, Costa said that the budget has major problems.
“Unfortunately, key county human service funds, welfare department programs that touch individuals directly and General Assistance grants aimed at helping those in dire need were eliminated or severely reduced,” Costa said. “This will hurt 70,000 Pennsylvanians who rely on the program.”
Costa noted that child care monies and county human service program funds were partially restored.
He said that the framework for the budget came from a spending plan worked on and passed in the Senate in early June. Senate Democrats were able to take part in those discussions then work through the process to defend the restorations as the bill wound its way through the legislative process.
“The state budget that we considered today is not the one that I would have crafted were Senate Democrats in charge of the process – these are not our priorities,” Costa said. “However, given the constraints set by the governor and the resources that were available, it is a tight budget.”
The state’s fiscal year ends June 30.