The newly-elected governor of Pennsylvania has presented a budget that contains no new taxes, but provides for steep spending cuts, particularly in education.
Republican Tom Corbett unveiled a $27.3 billion budget for 2011-2012, under which public schools, higher education, public health and welfare programs will undergo dramatic cuts.
The state of Pennsylvania faces a $4-billion deficit, which was exacerbated by the expiration of $2.6 billion in federal stimulus money (which runs out in June) and higher debt and pension obligation costs.
Corbett’s plan will cut basic education by almost $550-million, a 10 percent reduction from the current year; and cut another $650-million from higher education.
Four state universities, including Temple University and Lincoln University, will lose more than 50 percent of their state funding. The state system of higher education, which includes the state universities, will also see its funding cut in half.
Corbett will request public school districts to reopen their collective bargaining agreements to impose a one-year salary freeze on all school district personnel, including superintendents to teachers. (This is expected to save about $400-million)
Corbett will also ask school districts to seek voter approval on budgets that would raise property taxes above the rate of inflation.
The budget also envisions the elimination of 1,500 state jobs, including 500 employees of state hospitals.
I'm proposing something we haven't had in a long time: a reality-based budget, Corbett said. To the people of Pennsylvania, the taxpayers who sent us here, I want to say something you haven't heard often enough from this building: We get the picture. It's your money.”
In addition, the governor said “the electorate, its trust scraped to the bone by lies and half truths, isn't going to stand for another broken promise. I said we'd cut. I'm not asking you to read my lips. I'm asking you to read my budget.
The budget also seeks to remove some optional Medicaid benefits, including dental and pharmaceutical services.
Moreover, the Department of Economic and Community Development will see funding cut from $337.9 million to $223.6 million.
The spending plan remains subject to approval by the legislature by July 1.