From the main site, by Laura Olson and Karen Langley:HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett has unveiled his plan for a $27.14 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, proposing another round of significant cuts to higher education and smaller decreases across many agencies.
That overall spending figure nearly matches the current $27.16 billion plan, which was the result of deep reductions to schools and state social-services.
The administration said that maintaining spending amount will require some painful reductions in order to avoid raising taxes following what is now projected to be a $719 million deficit by the end of June.
Local school districts appear to be shielded from the many of the blows associated with another year of slow-growing tax revenues. A proposed revamping of the basic education funding would combine a modest increase in that funding with K-12 school districts getting block grants instead of separate funding streams, which the administration says would shrink management costs.
Meanwhile, three of the four state-related universities -- the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, and Temple University -- would see a 30 percent cut. The fourth, Lincoln University, would be flat-funded.
The State System of Higher Education colleges also would see fewer funds, with a 20 percent decrease proposed for those schools.
Among the other cuts, the Department of Public Welfare will see a decrease, including elimination of the cash portion of the general assistance program. The Department of Health also would take a hit, as would the General Assembly's allocation. Dollars for county fairs, food marketing, and the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school would disappear from the operating budget, instead to be funded out of the state's Race Horse Development Fund.
With a Marcellus Shale regulatory and revenue bill speeding toward his desk, environmental funding in both the Departments of Environmental Protection and of Conservation and Natural Resources will see their funding shrink.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Department of Corrections will not see an increase, with last year's nearly $1.9 billion funding remaining level.
While the governor proposed cuts in state funding to most departments, several would see increases. Those include the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, with more disaster-relief funding after a year of massive flooding, and the Probation and Parole Board.
The state police also would see a slight increase, to support 115 new state troopers.
The Treasury Department would see an increase to pay for the state's ever-growing debt service. The Department of Insurance would receive a slight boost of about $4 million for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
When the governor begins his remarks this morning, much of his focus likely will be on job creation. His budget touts a new JOBSFirst PA program, to combine many of the current economic development incentives and boosting outreach to companies.