Tom Corbett Budget: 5 Painful Cuts in Pennsylvania
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett just unveiled his 2011-12 budget proposal for the commonwealth, and sure enough, the $27.3 billion plan contains a number of steep cuts. For the past two years, Pennsylvania has benefited from a $2.6 billion federal stimulus package; that money runs out in June, and the commonwealth is grappling with a $4 billion deficit.
The proposed budget "resets Pennsylvania's fiscal clock to 2008-2009 levels," The Morning Call reports. And while it's largely in keeping with current conservative thinking about state finances (cut spending, don't raise taxes), Corbett has not targeted collective bargaining rights the way Gov. Scott Walker has in Wisconsin.
Here are five of the most noteworthy cuts Pennsylvanians could face if Corbett's plan is approved by the legislature.
1. K-12 education
Corbett wants to eliminate nearly $550 million in basic education funding. To compensate for the resulting shortfall, he's asking for a one-year salary freeze for all public school employees, a move that he says would save up to $400 million.
2. Higher education
The Pennsylvania university system stands to lose, too. Corbett plans to cut $650 million in higher education costs; funding for state and state-related schools (including Temple University and Lincoln University) would be slashed in half.
3. State jobs
The plan calls for the elimination of 1,500 state jobs through a mix of layoffs and attrition. About 1,200 of these cuts would come from the Department of Public Welfare, particularly its mental health services division.
4. Economic and community development
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development stands to have its budget lowered by 32 percent, with $114 million in proposed cuts. Corbett's administration has called DCED "a maze of separate programs" that had grown unwieldy and susceptible to manipulation by legislators looking out for pet projects.
5. Environmental protection
Funding for environmental protection would drop from $147 million to $140 million under Corbett's proposal, even as the EPA has ordered tighter monitoring of Pennsylvania's natural gas drilling industry.
In addition to these cuts, Corbett has proposed a number of tax credits and benefits for businesses. Among them: a $171.1 million business tax credit package; $25 million in grant funds for job creation and retention; a $10 million assistance program for small businesses and entrepreneurs; and the continued phase-out of the Pennsylvania capital stock and franchise tax, which is headed for elimination in 2014.
Track state budget cuts on Surge Desk:
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Florida Budget Cuts: Gov. Rick Scott's Most Dramatic Proposals
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