Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Corbett’s Budget, the Day of Reckoning . . . Who should be worried?

March 8, 2011 – the ‘Day of Reckoning’.

In a few short hours, Gov. Corbett will take center-stage with his much-anticipated 2011-12 budget. Government agencies across the state have every reason to be on edge, waiting for Corbett’s budget ax to swing this morning. Since Corbett promised not to raise taxes, this budget is expected to slash spending dramatically.

In the days leading up to today’s budget address, there has been much speculation met with few details from the Corbett administration. Facing a $4 billion state deficit, who should be most worried?

With federal stimulus money funding running out this year for education and health care assistance, those two areas are expected targets for major cuts.

Rumors are swirling that the governor’s budget contains $1 billion in education cuts. With many of school districts trying to manage looming deficits in next-years budgets, the severity of the anticipated state education cuts could send them over the edge. The loss of major educational spending from the state could have a direct impact on the taxpayers. If there is less education-directed funding coming from Harrisburg, will taxpayers be expected to pay higher property taxes to make up the difference? In some school districts in the state, we know the answer is ‘absolutely’.

Another probable target in today’s budget address is state workers. Of the 19 state employee unions in the state, contracts are expiring in June for 17 unions. Timing could not be worse for these union members . . . how many will lose their jobs due to budget cuts? One possible offset for state job loss, may be an increase in employee health care contributions. Will Corbett choose to push for substantial healthcare and pension contribution concessions from the union members?

A couple of other areas that may see major funding cuts are the state university system and the state parks. Colleges and universities are experiencing a decrease in aid as federal stimulus money diminishes. Combine the loss of federal aid with expected state budget cuts and college students in Pennsylvania may be facing higher tuition bills. Speculation has also swirled that the budget may contain significant funding cuts to the State Park system. Beyond diminished programming funding, it is possible that some of the parks will be forced to close.

March 8th, 2011, the ‘Day of Reckoning’ . . . as many feel the pain of Corbett’s budget. Tighten your seatbelt and brace for major cuts; the road is going to be rocky.

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  1. It’s going to be tough, but it has to be done. School districts cannot simply raise taxes. They have to start looking for ways to trim their budgets.

  2. So the budget is out and the biggest “hit” is to the education budgets.

    This seems hard-hearted, but at the same time Gov. Rendell dumped the mass percentage of the one-time monies he received (stimulus, etc) into education, so it also had the most out-of-balance increases over the past few years. The fact that the budget levels drop back to 2008-2009 levels, just three years ago, bares this out.

    Are there things to be upset over? Sure. And no one is ever going to be happy — that’s what occurs in a shared suffering budget. Is it a step in getting the budget back to sustainability? Absolutely. Finally, this is only the Governor’s proposal — we have to see what the legislature does with it.

  3. FYI — according to news coverage, Basic Education Funding actually increases 2%. Cuts are to other areas.

  4. The cost of a college education is in part directly related to the gross amount of aid available to students.

    If aid was capped at say, 18000 per year per student, then schools would have to manage their budgets without the gravey train of unlimited government aid.

    with few exceptions the cost of college is just way too expensive.

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