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House Sends Proposed $27.3 Billion Budget to Senate, Tobash Says

The state House has approved a $27.3 billion budget that differs from the one proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett by directing more money to education, and less to the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Berks) said today. 

“The budget is still a work in progress, but I believe we took a significant step forward today by approving a plan that focuses on restoring some funding to our schools,” Tobash said. “We are investing taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that will make all the difference for the Commonwealth’s future.” 

Tobash acknowledged the calls of some to spend more in this year’s budget. The Department of Revenue recently projected the state would end the fiscal year with $500 million more than anticipated. 

“I am encouraged to hear revenues are exceeding projections, but the fiscal year is not over yet, and we need to proceed with caution,” Tobash said. “We cannot continue the level of overspending that has taken place over the last several years.” 

Another reason to hold on to the additional funds is the debt facing the Commonwealth. In addition to general debt service, the state owes the federal government more than $3 billion in unemployment compensation funds, and a court ruling is pending over the state’s use of MCare funds to fill holes in the budget in prior years. If the court rules against the Commonwealth, $850 million would have to be repaid. 

“It is in the best interest of the taxpayers to keep spending in check and to stop living on borrowed funds,” he said. 

House Bill 1485 now goes to the Senate for consideration, where it will be debated and likely amended.  

“This is not the final budget product, and we will continue to work to ensure adequate funding is available for critical services,” Tobash said. “One area on which I will focus is ensuring our health care facilities have the financial support necessary to meet the needs of our citizens of all ages.” 

In his inaugural budget, Corbett put forth a $27.3 billion plan that cut spending by 3 percent in comparison to the current year’s budget. The plan included cuts to public schools and universities, but increased funding for DPW.  

The House plan also seeks to spend $27.3 billion but cuts $470 million from the governor’s proposed welfare budget and directs that money instead toward education.  

In comparison to the governor’s plan, the House-approved budget increases K-12 education funding by $210 million, including the reinstatement of the Accountability Block Grant program, which is flexible funding often used to support pre-kindergarten or full-day kindergarten programs.  

The plan also funds State System of Higher Education schools at 85 percent of the current year’s funding, compared to just 47 percent in Corbett’s plan. State-related schools, including Penn State, would be funded at 75 percent of the current year’s levels.  

“I am confident that we can continue to provide the welfare safety net to people who truly need it by making a few simple administrative changes, such as increasing the use of generic drugs,” Tobash said. “We also restored funding for the Human Service Development Fund, which provides additional flexibility at the local level.” 

Tobash also noted House efforts to enact a package of welfare reform legislation aimed at weeding out cases of fraud and abuse. 

The state budget is to be adopted by the end of the fiscal year, June 30. 

State Representative Mike Tobash
125th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Patricia Hippler

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