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Gov. Corbett Cuts Senate, House Funding $72.2 Million, Reviewing Options On Pensions

Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday he signed the FY 2014-15 state budget-- House Bill 2328 (Adolph-R-Delaware)-- and the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 278 (Baker-R-Tioga), but item vetoed $72.2 million in funding going to the Senate and House saying they need to participate in being financially responsible to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

The $72.2 million cut to the General Assembly includes $65 million in their general appropriations and $7.2 million in legislatively designated spending.

Click Here for a copy of the item veto message. Click Here for a spreadsheet showing itemized list of cuts.

In response to questions after the Governor’s remarks, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said the budget passed by the Senate and House was not agreed-to by the Corbett Administration, unlike in other years.

The Governor also called again on the General Assembly to stand up to unions and work for the people of Pennsylvania and enact meaningful pension reform.  Plans that only include elected officials (like the Senate passed) and other limited measures are failing taxpayers.

He added he is reviewing other options, including calling a special session, to get the General Assembly to enact pension reform.

In his remarks, Gov. Corbett pointed out the General Assembly gave themselves a 2 percent increase in funding in the budget they passed, including charging taxpayers $5 million more for parking, and refused to use any of their $150 million surplus to help balance the budget. 

Corbett also said the General Assembly filled the budget with other legislatively designated spending.

“As they did in the last three budgets, agencies sharpened their pencils, set priorities, and spent what they had – not what they wished they had,” said Corbett. “We made tough decisions so that funding for critical programs and services that benefit the people of Pennsylvania would go unharmed. It is what I promised the people of Pennsylvania I would do, and, frankly, it is what they expect and deserve from their state government.

“The same, however, cannot be said for the General Assembly,” he noted.

“While I am pleased they supported my priorities in this budget − investing more money into our children’s education, reducing waiting lists for services for people living with disabilities, and increasing access to health care in rural and underserved areas of Pennsylvania – the final budget they sent me, coupled with their failure to address critical challenges facing our state, cause me great concern,” Corbett added.

“Facing a $1.5 billion deficit and struggling to provide adequate funding for essential programs, the General Assembly instead chose to increase their own $330 million budget by 2 percent. It is charging the taxpayers an additional $5 million to pay for its parking,” Corbett said. “It refuses to use any of its own six-month surplus – $150 million in taxpayer-funded budgetary reserves – to help with the budget gap. It filled the budget with earmarks driven by high-powered lobbyists. And it refused to deal with the biggest fiscal challenge facing Pennsylvania: our public pensions.

“For this reason, I am forcing mutual sacrifice with the General Assembly through the governor’s ability to line-item veto and hold spending in budgetary reserve. Today, I am item vetoing $65 million in General Assembly spending and an additional $7.2 million in legislative-designated spending,” Corbett explained.

In response to a question about enactment of a new cigarette tax in Philadelphia to help the school district, Gov. Corbett said he wants to see it enacted, but noted everyone is stepping up in Philadelphia but the teacher’s union.  He said he found it “unfathomable” that in 498 school districts in Pennsylvania teachers contribute to funding their health care.  In Philadelphia they don’t.

The following items were vetoed by the Governor--

General Assembly

-- Senate - $31.3 million

-- House - 20.1 million

-- Legislative Service Agencies - $13.6 million

Dept.  of Environmental Protection

-- Sewage Facilities Planning Grants - $700,000, new total is zero

-- Environmental Program Management - $150,000, new total- $28.5 million

Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

-- Heritage Parks Program - $500,000, new total- $2.25 million

See the separate article on item vetoes of specific appropriations in the Fiscal Code bill.

Summary Of Remaining Line Items

Here’s a thumbnail of the new, and now approved General Fund budget--

Agriculture

-- Transfer $17.6 million Horse Racing Fund for Dept. of Agriculture operations

Education

-- Community Colleges - $215,667,000, $3.5 million increase

-- Transfer to Community College Capital Fund - $48,869,000, no change

-- Regional Community College Capital Fund - $2.4 million

-- State Related Universities - Flat funding, except slight increase for PA College Of Technology

-- State System of Higher Education - Flat funding

-- PHEAA Scholarships - $5 million increase

Environmental Protection

-- DEP Operations - $12.4 million increase

-- Delaware River Basin Commission - $500,000 cut

-- Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Fund - $6.2 million

Conservation & Natural Resources

-- Heritage Parks Program - $2.25 million

-- Transfer of $95 million from “non-impact drilling on DCNR Land

-- Transfer of $73 million from the Oil and Gas Fund for DCNR operations

-- Transfer of $20 million from State Forest Timber operations

-- NO transfer from Keystone Fund

Other Provisions

-- No transfer from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund

-- No suspension of tax credit programs like the farm conservation tax credit REAP or the Historic Preservation tax credit

Attorney General - $5 million increase

State Treasurer - $3.8 million increase

Auditor General - Flat funding

Judiciary - Flat funding

Click Here for a copy of the line item spreadsheet.  Click Here for the budget balance and transfers sheet.  A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.  A summary and Senate Fiscal Note are available.

Click Here for a copy of the Governor’s budget press release.

NewsClips:

Corbett Signs Budget, Vetoes Legislative Funding

Corbett Signs Budget, Slams Lawmakers Over Pensions

Winners, Losers In Corbett’s Budget

Corbett Wins Enmity Of General Assembly

Turzai Calls On Corbett To Take On Pension, Liquor Reform

Turzai Calls On Corbett To Take Greater Leadership Role

Corbett: Some Legislators Hold Grudge For Investigations

Corbett Ad: I Didn’t Come To Harrisburg To Make Friends

Angry Corbett Finds His Mojo, Will It Be Enough?

Governor, Republicans Display Years Of Frustration

Republicans, Democrats Rip Corbett On Budget

Did Corbett Flub His Budget Strategy?

Legislators Aren’t Rushing Back To Harrisburg

Fiscal Code Bill Shrouds Earmarks In Secrecy

Questions Raises About Legality Of Fiscal Code Bill

Budget Bill May Force Drilling Regs To Start Over

Op-Ed: Don’t Frack Under Ohiopyle


7/14/2014

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