A Detailed Look at the House GOP Budget Plan

As promised earlier this week, we have a full analysis of the Pennsylvania House Republicans' 2011-12 budget proposal now available at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's web site.

The budget plan, which was introduced on Tuesday, sets spending at $27.3 billion, the initial spend number proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, and leaves untouched a $506 million accumulated revenue surplus.

It also incorporates the Governor's plan to transfer revenue from the Tobacco Settlement Fund into the General Fund. If Tobacco Settlement Fund dollars are taken out of the equation, the budget spends around $27 billion, well below 2008-09 levels.

As expected, the plan represents a shift in cuts rather than a restoration of programs.

Here are the highlights:

  • Department of Public Welfare (DPW) programs, including Medical Assistance, County Child Welfare and Behavioral Health, are cut by $471 million from the Governor’s March proposal.
  • Higher education gets $370 million above the Governor’s proposal, but the funding restorations are not uniform.  The State System of Higher Education would still receive a 15% total cut from 2010-11 under the House plan. Penn State would see a 21% cut, and the State-related Universities would see cuts of 25%.  Despite restoring some of the Governor’s cuts, this plan would reduce current year higher education funding by $269 million.
  • Only $243 million of the $1.2 billion in cuts to public schools are restored.  The House budget adds back only $100 million of a $550 million cut to the basic education subsidy and $100 million of $259 million in funding for full-day kindergarten and other early childhood education programs (which was zeroed out in the Governor's budget). The House plan leaves intact a $224 million cut to the charter school reimbursement, which disproportionately hurts low-income urban schools.

Our analysis has a lot more details so check it out to learn what's in and what's out in the House GOP budget. We'll also be back next week with more details on how you can take action in support of a more responsible state budget.

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