Gov. Tom Corbett's first budget totals $27.3 billion dollars. As promised, there are no new taxes, but the spending plan includes cuts to funding for K-12 public schools and trims 1,500 state jobs. The governor says it "sorts the must-haves from the nice-to-haves."
As promised, the $27.3 billion spending plan includes no new taxes, but it does call for sharp cuts in education and the elimination of hundreds of state jobs.
"We said we'd fix this mess. And we will," said Corbett.
The Republican governor took office in January.
The state House and Senate Appropriations Committees are set to begin holding public budget hearings next week.
Under state law, the General Assembly must approve a budget plan by midnight on June 30.
Corbett's budget address was met with mixed reactions across the commonwealth.
In Philadelphia, the citizens group ACTION United staged a protest demonstration outside the governor's center city office. Organizers say it's wrong to cut health programs and lay off teachers without first asking corporations and CEO's to pay their fair share.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said difficult budget challenges should be approached in ways that don't have a negative impact on the No. 1 priority of creating jobs.
Here is a sampling of reaction to Corbett’s first budget:
"I am very concerned about what the proposals outlined today mean for Philadelphia’s students, our vulnerable citizens, and our ability to grow and create jobs. I am concerned about the impact that the elimination of the Charter School reimbursement will have on the resources available for all young Philadelphians in our public school system. I am concerned about the elimination of the School District’s Accountability Block Grant, which we have used in Philadelphia to provide full day kindergarten services. I am concerned about the impact on homelessness, on children receiving treatment for lead poisoning, and on overall quality of life in Philadelphia that will be felt with elimination of the Human Services Development Fund."
State Rep. Joe Hackett (R-161st District)
“Governor Corbett has made many tough choices in his budget. It’s our job to analyze these choices to make sure we are cutting the redundancies and waste that have choked the system. I want to make sure the budget we ultimately pass is one that puts Pennsylvania on firm economic footing and creates jobs. We do not want to throttle down the state economy just as it is showing signs of recovery.”
State Rep. Daryl Metcalf (R-12th District):
“After 12 straight years of having no choice but to vote against every fiscally irresponsible state budget signed into law, I am optimistic that the budget proposal put forth by Governor Tom Corbett today, which contains no new taxes and nearly $1 billion in spending reductions, provides an excellent working framework to begin the process of getting state government off our backs and out of our pockets. The Department of Public Welfare should be among the first targets for spending reductions, since during the past eight years, they were without question the leading beneficiary of the Rendell administration’s fraud-ridden, close your eyes and authorize spending excesses -- ballooning from $6 billion a year before Fast Eddie to more than $10 billion annually after this limousine-speeding liberal took his Road to Serfdom back to Philadelphia.”
State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-153rd District):
“The numbers in the governor’s budget add up but the math doesn’t work for most Pennsylvanians. The governor’s self-described ‘reality based budget’ is rooted more in political ideology than in meeting the real needs of Pennsylvanians. Cuts are no doubt necessary, but they ought to be done with careful thought and precision. The governor has not executed a single performance audit on any state program that he has proposed cutting.”
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware/Montgomery):
"I am extremely disheartened by Gov. Corbett's proposed budget. When families face hard times, they look for additional ways to increase their incomes and reduce spending where they can. They don't deny their family members access to care and services they need, which is essentially what our governor is proposing for Pennsylvanians. Gov. Corbett said today that we need to balance the scales in order to build a better Commonwealth, but his proposed budget tips the scales in the favor of big business. I pledge to do all that I can to protect the interests of all Pennsylvanians and I aim to work with my fellow lawmakers to hash out a better plan that provides better benefits to all."
Jim Burn, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman:
"Corbett's budget is a direct assault on the middle class. Tom Corbett crafted a budget that will likely increase property taxes and tuition payments for middle class families while hurting our ability to educate students. At a time when we need to train and educate a new generation of leaders, Tom Corbett's budget will devastate our schools and universities, setting Pennsylvania back as we fight to create the jobs of the future in our Commonwealth and fill those roles with students educated in Pennsylvania.”