Friday, July 1, 2011

With Minutes to Spare the Governor Signed the State Budget

Pennsylvania State Capitol Front PanoramaWith minutes left in the state fiscal year, Governor Corbett signed H.B. 1485, the spending plan for fiscal year 2011-12. The bill was approved by a vote of 30-20 in the Senate and 109-92 in the House.

While a deal on the budget had been reached earlier the Governor did not sign the bill until late Thursday because he was waiting for finalization of accompanying legislation, which included legislation rescinding exceptions to requiring school districts to obtain voter approval for raising property tax above a state-set inflation rate.

The budget spends a total of $27.15B, a 3.4% decrease from the current fiscal year spending level. This is the first-time since 1970 that the spending level is lower than the previous fiscal year.

The result is deep cuts in education, health, and human services. In addition, cuts were made in environmental programs, tourism and other crucial state services.

Key spending cuts include:
  • Education by a total of $863M - basic education by slightly over 7% and higher education by 18%.
  • Child care by 10%
  • Child welfare by 4%.
  • Behavioral health by 10%.
  • Housing Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) by over 80%.

For a complete list and analysis of the budget cuts click here.

At the same time that severe cuts are being made, there is no tax increase to generate additional revenue and a majority of the state's $650M revenue surplus is left on the table.

On a more personal note, these budget cuts hit home here at PathWays PA as some of the programs we provide are seeing a hit or are being cut all together. Our clients will not be able to receive the same level of services and in some cases entire programs, for example our adult literacy programs, have been cut. While we appreciate the need to have a balanced budget we are disappointed that it comes at the cost of forcing some of our clients that are working so hard to reach self-sufficiency to go without supports that allow them to work and/or to get an education. The “balanced budget” will have a very unbalanced result when it is enacted. PathWays PA will continue to serve all of our clients to the best of our abilities and work hard to reach those we can even with limited funding.

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