Budget Passes House, on to Governor’s Desk

News Release from PA State Representative Martin Causer:

Recognizing the significant economic challenges facing Pennsylvania and its citizens, the state House today approved a $27.15 billion state budget that reduces spending by more than $1 billion while continuing support for essential services, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint).

It is just the third time in the last 40 years that the Legislature has adopted a budget that spends less than the prior fiscal year, and it is the first time in eight years that it will be done on time.

“This was an extremely difficult budget year, but I believe we negotiated a responsible plan that meets the needs of the taxpayers by bringing state spending under control,” said Causer, who, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, played a significant role in crafting the plan. “We worked hard to restore some of the deep cuts the governor proposed for our schools, higher education institutions and hospitals, and we worked just as hard to make cuts to his proposed welfare budget.

“We came into the year with a $4 billion structural deficit, due in large part to the loss of federal stimulus funds and years of overspending by the Rendell administration,” he continued. “This budget will help turn things around and move our Commonwealth’s economy in a positive direction.”

  • Lawmakers made education a priority, recognizing it as an important investment in the state’s future:
  • For K-12 public education, the final budget restores more than $230 million originally cut in the budget put forth by Gov. Tom Corbett. This includes more than $100 million for the Basic Education Funding line item, as well as $100 million for the highly valued Accountability Block Grant program. The grant program provides flexible funds school districts often use for initiatives such as all-day kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.
  • Funding for the State System of Higher Education and state-related institutions such as the University of Pittsburgh was also increased in comparison to the administration’s budget proposal. While the schools were initially slated to be funded at less than 50 percent of the current year’s level, House and Senate negotiators pushed to have the funding restored to more than 80 percent of the current year’s level.
  • The total investment in education exceeds $9.5 billion and represents more than a third of the entire state budget.

Recognizing the importance of access to quality health care, lawmakers worked to partially restore funding for the state’s hospitals, including money for critical access hospitals which will be funded at 75 percent of the current year’s level. The line item had been eliminated in the governor’s proposal.

Just as high on Causer’s priority list was reducing the proposed welfare budget for the coming fiscal year. Lawmakers trimmed more than $400 million from Corbett’s proposal and, as part of the budget process, will implement a number of reforms aimed at reducing waste, fraud and abuse.

“I firmly believe this welfare budget preserves assistance for those who truly need it,” Causer said. “The cuts we are making are based on the significant evidence of waste, fraud and abuse within the welfare department.

“This budget marks an important first step toward ensuring the welfare system is accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, and I look forward to being able to make additional spending reductions in the future,” he added.

While Causer believes the 2011-12 fiscal year budget is the type of budget that is needed during these challenging economic times, he also acknowledged that cutting $1 billion in spending will have an impact on those programs and services that are receiving reduced funding.

“Families across Pennsylvania are doing more with less, and government must do the same. It isn’t easy for anyone,” he said. “However, I believe we are doing the right thing for the taxpayers by finally bringing spending under control.”

The governor is expected to sign the budget bill soon.


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