PA Senate Approves Budget, But Deep Cuts Remain

The Pennsylvania Senate approved a $27.6 billion budget plan today by a vote of 39-8. The plan improves upon the budget proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, but deep cuts to education and health services remain.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a rare display of bipartisanship, adopted two Democratic amendments and unanimously approved the spending plan.

The Senate budget, Senate Bill 1466, finds savings from reduced spending on general obligation debt and school employee retirement costs. Most departments remain unchanged. Funding for education, public welfare and health account for the bulk of the changes. 

In early public statements, the Governor is not on board, calling the Senate budget plan "unsustainable." It is not clear if that is saber rattling or if the Governor will agree to a plan that spends $27.6 billion, $517 million more than he proposed in February. 

The Senate plan also leaves money on the table. The Governor’s proposal to cap the sales tax vendor discount, which would have saved $41 million, is gone. The capital stock and franchise tax cut, worth $90 million this year and $150 million more the following year, remains. So the budget continues to cut services and shift costs to local taxpayers while continuing tax breaks we cannot afford. 

Get a full overview on the Senate budget from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

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