Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Governor Tom Corbett's budget proposal does too little for schools and too much for corporations that aren't creating jobs, according to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, which researches and analyzes the effects of state policies on working families.
Sharon Ward, the Center's director, said the blueprint does little to mend deep cuts to education and health care made during Corbett's first two years in office. And yet, Ward said, it contains funding elsewhere that will cost the Commonwealth $2.5 billion a year.
"He has allowed new corporate tax cuts that really undermine our ability to fund all of these things into the future, and shifts costs onto local property-tax payers," she declared.
Ward said the governor's transportation funding plan is a welcome development after long delays and stalled infrastructure investments. But she added that Corbett's budget lacks foresight on the topic of expanding Medicaid to cover more Pennsylvanians.
"Governor Corbett really missed a great opportunity that would allow Pennsylvania to opt into a coverage expansion that will bring in tens of billions of dollars into the state, create new jobs, and spur growth in our health-care manufacturers."
Ward said there are what she believes to be substantial holes in Corbett's funding formula for his "Passport for Learning" block grant program, which is meant to increase student safety and expand science and math in schools. It relies on revenue from selling the state-run liquor store system, an idea the Legislature has shot down twice before.
"First, it's highly uncertain, and second, it's one-time money that will disappear in a few years," she said. "I think our kids need more security and a better funding system than that."
Ward said Corbett's "silent tax loopholes" would remain in effect regardless of the state's fiscal health, and she predicted that will not only tie the hands of future leaders, but also let corporations shift their profits tax-free to states like Delaware and Nevada.
Corbett has said his budget helps put Pennsylvania on a solid financial footing for the future.
See the 2013-2014 budget proposal online at www.portal.state.pa.us.