Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Updates on the State Budget

Lunette Rotunda Pennsylvania State CapitolHere is what we are learning from the news media regarding the state budget:
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer
    • Temple, Lincoln, Pennsylvania State, and Pittsburgh are now facing a 19 percent cut as opposed to a 50% cut - "although that, too, was in jeopardy Monday night after some of the relevant bills failed to muster enough votes in either the House or Senate.According to Bill Adolph, funding bills for the universities will likely get pushed to the fall.  In other words, according to The Patriot-News, these universities will go into the fiscal year with no state funding, although there will be time to revisit this choice before summer recess begins.
    • K-12 education would regain about $269 million of the $1.1 billion cut in the Governor's Budget, including $100 million in the Accountability Block Grant program, which funds all-day kindergarten and other early childhood education programs and $130 million in basic education aid.  Philadelphia schools will receive $22 million back out of the $292 million cut through the Governor's budget.  
    • According to The Inquirer, "The cuts affect districts in different ways, in part because of funding formulas. Poorer districts, for instance, have more students going to charter schools. So they would be hard-hit by the budget writers' decision to stick with Corbett's plan to stop reimbursing districts for charter-school payments. Districts must pay for the education of their students in charters."
    • The budget cuts 50% of job training funding and to day care programs that allow children to be in childcare while their parents work. 
  • Capitol Ideas
    • Democrats spent part of the budget debate last night advocating for programs "ranging from tourism and economic development to resurrecting the defunct adultBasic health insurance program." 
    • A full Senate vote is expected today, with a House vote coming as likely as Wednesday, assuming that a Marcellus Shale tax is not added into the mix.
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
    • Spending under the new budget will fall by 4.1% from last year.
    • "The overall 4 percent budget cut appears to be unprecedented in recent history, said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster County." Susan Hooper, spokeswoman for the Governor's Budget office, said there was no record of a 4 percent cut since at least 1970.
  • Forbes.com/Associated Press
    • "The budget also would lower business taxes and keep hundreds of millions of dollars in reserve..."
    • The budget cuts aid for services such as food pantries, adult shelters, and child welfare, but eases initial cuts slated for hospitals that care for the poor and community health programs.
    • A fiscal code bill must pass as part of the budget, and some bi-partisan calls are being made to include Marcellus Shale taxes in the code.  "As a result, House Republicans on Monday said they will hold a floor vote on a separate bill to impose a Marcellus Shale gas fee later this week, although House Majority Whip Stan Saylor, R-York, said he did not know what the bill would look like."  Corbett would like to wait on making any decision on the Shale until after receiving task force recommendations next month.
The Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition is asking constituents to take action for a better state budget.  If you do not agree with the choices being made (you can read these choices for yourself in the state budget, which can be found at http://media.pennlive.com/midstate_impact/other/Final_2011_12Budget_Printout.pdf),  please let your Senators know.  You can find your Senator's phone number through the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center,  and follow up your call by sending them an email.

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