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Senate Democrats Say Corbett Budget Misses Mark

Senator Jay Costa

The $28.4 billion General Fund budget that Gov. Tom Corbett outlined in a speech before a joint session of the General Assembly was described by Senate Democrats as inadequate because it relies heavily on savings from initiatives that will never be approved.

“The governor’s plan is inadequate and inappropriate for moving Pennsylvania forward,” said Costa.  “It was long on politics but short on solutions.”

 “The Corbett budget plan is built on false choices and does little to solve key problems facing Pennsylvania today.  We should not be linking the future success of our children to anything other than our dedication and commitment to quality programs and services.” 

The governor has called for privatizing state liquor stores and raising a billion dollars that would be channeled, in his plan, to fund specific education initiatives or lower pension contributions.

Senator Costa Comments on Governor’s
2013-14 Budget Proposal

Click here to read transcription of interview.
Senator Costa Comments on Governor's 2013-14 Budget Proposal

Governor Corbett also called for pension reform while failing to acknowledge that his suggested pension reforms do not reduce the $41 billion in unfunded liability which is driving the cost of the system.  In fact, his proposed changes may add to the problem. 

Senate Democrats React to Governor's 2013-14 Budget Proposal

In addition, his liquor plan faces high legislative hurdles and failed to be adopted last legislative session.  Two previous governors faced similar obstacles when they attempted to privatize liquor sales. 

Senate Democrats also blasted the plan for not addressing job creation and for failing to fund education properly. 

Gov. Corbett has called for $375 million in tax cuts for business, yet only sought a boost of $90 million for basic education.  He proposed to consolidate eight business loan funds into one large $1.1 billion fund, yet he fails to outline new initiatives to utilize this funding to address serious job deficits. 

Job Creation

Pennsylvania now ranks 34th in net new job growth among the 50 states.  The pace of annual job growth under Corbett has slowed while the state’s unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.  All told, more than 516,000 Pennsylvanians are out of work. 


Basic education cuts of $900 million over the past two fiscal years have taken their toll on students and taxpayers.  More than 75 percent of districts have eliminated offerings and cut key programs such as tutoring and after school assistance.  Simultaneously, in excess of 80 percent of Pennsylvania school districts have increased property taxes.

The governor has called for $90 million more in subsidies and another $200 million in discretionary education spending which would be available if liquor stores were privatized.

Privatizing Liquor Sales

Senator Jay CostaThe governor also said that he wanted to privatize the sale of liquor in a convoluted multi-tiered and confusing plan that would create as many as 20,000 retail outlets.  The plan, while raising revenues in the short-term, has a long-term negative fiscal impact, reducing the revenues generated by $150 million per year. 


Another initiative outlined in the governor’s address was a transportation plan.  The plan called for by the governor was to lift the cap on the Oil Franchise Tax and use the estimated $1.8 billion to fund road, highway, bridge and other transportation projects.  The governor has also said that he would end the half billion in funds now used for mass transit in ten years without designating replacement revenues. 

The plan to lift the Oil Franchise Tax cap from its current $1.25 per gallon would mean that the sales would be fully taxable.

The governor’s own Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) recommended an investment of $3.5 billion as a way to address critical funding needs.

“We cannot continue to wait any longer for a real, comprehensive solution instead of continuing to put a band-aid on our failing infrastructure,” said Costa.  “The lack of real progress only hurts Pennsylvania businesses and families, particularly in the most rural parts of the state.”

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Sen. Costa sets priorities for 2013-14 session.