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Costa: Final State Budget Far Better than Corbett Plan
Senate Democrats Work to Restore Funds for Higher Education, Block Grants, Hospitals

Sen. Costa unveiled legislation that would institute protections for programs serving seniors if Gov. Corbett decides to proceed with privatizing the management of the state lottery."The state budget is not the one that I would have crafted were Senate Democrats in charge of the process - these are not our priorities," state Sen. Jay Costa, the Senate Democratic leader, said.

"Given the constraints set by the governor and
the resources that were available, we were able to address needs in a few areas."

Listen to Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa talk about the state budget. Listen

Sen. Costa said that the revised 2012-13 state budget includes funding that Senate Democrats sought for Accountability Block Grants, higher education and mortgage protection. Significantly, the plan is a stark departure from the harsh budget proposed by Gov. Corbett in February.

The state Senate passed and the governor signed into law a revised $27.65 billion state budget. The budget includes $775 million more for key line items above Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget. Sen. Costa voted for the budget because Senate Democratic initiatives were part of the plan. The measure cleared the Senate on 32-17 vote.

"The plan does not increase taxes and resources are stretched to try and cover some critical needs," he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa speaks about budget restorations. Listen

Costa said that the governor's plan called for a $267 million cut for higher education, the stripping of funds for specialized hospital services and human service programs along with no new real dollars for education.

"The final budget includes more dollars for Accountability Block Grants and a rollback of severe budget cuts that were part of the governor's budget outline," Costa said.

"If the governor's plan were rubber-stamped, school districts, hospitals, social services and many other vulnerable programs would be in significant jeopardy."

Significant budget items include:Costa

  • flat funds basic education, but adds $100 million for Accountability Block Grants;
  • contains $50 million for distressed schools;
  • restores funding for hospital services such as obstetric and neonatal care, trauma, burn centers and critical-care access;
  • adds another $25 million for education tax credits already created in law;
  • funds a new tax credit program to help students in underperforming schools.

Despite these provisions, and other positive additions Senate Democrats were able to put into the plan, Costa said that the budget has major problems.

Budget Priorities Budget Priorities "Unfortunately, key county human service funds, welfare department programsthat touch individuals directly and General Assistance grants aimed at helping those in dire need were eliminated or severely reduced," Costa said. "This will hurt 70,000 Pennsylvanians who rely on the program."

Costa noted that child-care monies and county human service program funds were partially restored.

The framework for the budget came from a spending plan worked on and passed in the Senate in early June. Senate Democrats were able to take part in those discussions then work through the process to defend the restorations as the bill wound its way through the legislative process.

Earlier this year, Senate Democrats outlined their budget and policy priorities at a news conference at the state Capitol.

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Sen. Costa unveiled legislation that would institute protections for programs serving seniors if Gov. Corbett decides to proceed with privatizing the management of the state lottery. Costa