The following budget analysis is by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. You can also view other fact sheets and summaries about budget-related legislation at the center's web site.

The General Assembly has enacted a 2012-13 state budget that restores some of the cuts proposed by Governor Tom Corbett to public schools, universities and other services, while leaving intact a 10% cut to human services and deep cuts to education made in 2011. The budget continues to shift costs to local governments and taxpayers, while adding new tax breaks for businesses. Although the state ended the year with a $649 million fund balance, the budget fails to make the investments that are essential to building a strong economy or to reverse a recent trend where job growth in the commonwealth has lagged behind other states.

Overall spending, at $27.656 billion, is $517 million more than the Governor’s February proposal. Still, the final budget remains below budgeted 2008-09 levels, despite four years of recession-driven increases in demand for services. Compared to 2010-11, this budget cuts spending by 1.4%, with public schools, higher education, environmental protection and economic development taking the biggest hits.

The largest cut in this budget is $160 million for the General Assistance Program, which is eliminated effective August 1. General Assistance provides a temporary $205 monthly benefit to 68,887 Pennsylvanians who are sick, disabled or escaping an abuser. Over the years, it has...

Stephen Drachler and Peg Dierkers, co-chairs of the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition, issued the following statement on the final 2012-13 budget:

The final budget restores some of the cuts proposed by the governor. We thank the legislators who advocated strongly on behalf of children, families and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. The budget also restores cuts to the state’s higher education system, which is good for the economy.

Despite the earnest efforts of those legislators, the budget falls short of meeting the commonwealth’s moral obligation to its most vulnerable residents. It eliminates the General Assistance Program, giving people with disabilities fewer places to turn. Cuts will make it more difficult for counties to deliver human services and for schools to educate our children – now and for years to come.

This budget also enacts a new business tax cut without any requirement that new jobs be created, and enacts new tax credits programs without accountability or transparency provisions that ensure the money is well spent. The budget leaves in place cuts to education that have diminished the quality of instruction in our poorest school districts and resulted in the loss of 14,000 jobs in 2011 with thousands more losses expected this year.

The governor and some lawmakers have made the claim that the budget does not raise taxes, but in reality this budget continues to shift costs to school districts and local governments, with the inevitable consequence of higher costs for local taxpayers. This is why 50 local...

Governor Tom Corbett and Legislative LeadersThe Pennsylvania House and Senate have approved a 2012-13 state budget. Total spending will increase by roughly $500 million over Governor Tom Corbett's proposal, from $27.139 billion to $27.656 billion.

Spending will remain below the budgeted 2008-09 levels, despite four years of recession-driven increases in demand for services. This means that for the fifth straight year most state services will have to make do with less. 

The plan largely resembles a budget bill passed by the Senate last month, with a few exceptions.

Block Grants for None

One of the Governor’s programmatic priorities was to begin to block grant funding to local governments, including school districts and county human services. Block grants to school districts would create a heftier per student funding “backpack” for students moving to charter or non-public schools through a voucher, a key gubernatorial priority. Many viewed the human services block grant as a trial for a broader Medicaid waiver that could limit funding and enrollment for health care services.

Both block grants are gone from this budget. The Senate rejected the school district block grant back in May, and under...

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