Plan cuts state spending by $1.1 billion, avoids tax increases
The Senate and House of Representatives have approved a $27.149 billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2011-12 that reduces state spending and maintains state services and programs without a tax increase, announced Senator Bob Mensch (R-24).
The bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday. It is now before Governor Corbett. He is expected to sign it later today, prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year on Friday, July 1.
The General Appropriations Act of 2011 — as amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday — represents a $1.1 billion reduction in spending from the current budget.
“The budget reflects the current economic conditions in Pennsylvania. We were facing a structural deficit of more than $4 billion. The only choices available were to raise taxes or cut spending,” said Senator Mensch, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The final spending plan upholds the Senate Republican Caucus’ commitment to finalizing a budget on time that is balanced, includes no “gimmicks,” and does not increase taxes.
“We thoroughly reviewed every program, every department and every area of state spending to ensure that the financial resources of the Commonwealth are invested wisely and prudently,” Senator Mensch continued. “Working with the Administration, we identified several areas in the Department of Public Welfare where increased efficiency would provide significant savings. Additional savings were found in the Department of Corrections budget including a reduction from the Governor’s initial request for inmate health care.”
The budget increases basic education spending by more than $250 million from Governor Corbett’s request, including an additional $128 million for basic education subsidies, which provide direct funding for Pennsylvania’s K-12 public schools.
The budget bill also provides substantial increases in funding for higher education over the Governor’s original request. Funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 State System of Higher Education universities is increased by $180 million in the budget while funding for the four state-related schools (Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln) is increased by $224 million.
“We did everything possible to cushion the impact that Pennsylvania’s schools and universities will feel with the end of federal ARRA funding. We moved money in the budget and reduced line items for other departments and agencies. We only have so many resources available and we shifted what we could to support education,” Senator Mensch said.
The budget also includes an $11 million increase for the operation of Pennsylvania’s six Veterans Homes. These homes provide care for about 1,450 Pennsylvania veterans at any given time and are normally always near full capacity. It also provides a $7 million increase for the DMVA’s Educational Assistance Program, which provides tuition assistance for members of the National Guard who attend colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Lisa Walter