Three weeks of hearings in both the House and the state Senate on Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed 2014-2015 state budget will begin Monday.
On Tuesday, Corbett unveiled a $29.4 billion spending plan which reflects a spending increase of nearly one billion dollars, or about 3.7 percent. It’s the largest proposed spending increase since Corbett took office. Political opponents are quick to point out that it may be no coincidence that it was structured during a re-election year.
Corbett is counting on a four percent increase in revenue collections to support the budget plan.
Reactions to the Governor’s budget address were, of course, mixed. State Representative Lee James, from Oil City, said in a statement, “We are currently spending more state dollars on education than at any time in the Commonwealth’s history. The Governor’s budget proposal would build on that record level of commitment to our students, teachers and parents.” James added that the introduction of the spending plan is just the beginning stage of the budget process.
Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa said Corbett’s call for investments in education, job creation and workforce development is not enough. Costa said the Governor failed to talk about his attempts at job growth, and what he called “$1.2 billion in one-term budget fixes that jeopardize the state’s fiscal ability.
House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph called the presentation a fine budget speech, but added the state is faced with many challenges as it works to balance priorities and variables.
Democratic Appropriations Chairman Joe Markosek delivered a harsh critique of the proposed budget, calling it a “gimmicky, rob-Peter-to-pay Paul election year special.”