Analysis of House Republican Budget Proposal

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The Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus introduced a 2011-12 state budget proposal on May 10 that is consistent with the principles communicated by caucus leaders over the past few months.  It spends only $27.3 billion, the initial spend number proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, and leaves untouched a $506 million accumulated revenue surplus.

The House budget incorporates Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to transfer revenue from the Tobacco Settlement Fund into the General Fund. If Tobacco Settlement Fund dollars are taken out of the equation, the budget spends around $27 billion, well below 2008-09 levels.

As expected, the plan represents a shift in cuts rather than a restoration of programs. This is evident throughout the budget.  For example, the plan restores $20 million of the $23 million cut to the Human Services Development Fund — a source of flexible funding for county human services — but cuts the county child welfare line by $22 million.

Department of Public Welfare (DPW) programs, including Medical Assistance, County Child Welfare and Behavioral Health, are cut by $471 million from the Governor’s March proposal.

Higher education programs receive $370 million above the Governor’s proposal, but the funding restorations are not uniform.  The State System of Higher Education would still receive a 15% total cut from 2010-11 under the House plan. Penn State would see a 21% cut, and the State-related Universities would see cuts of 25%.  Despite restoring some of the Governor’s cuts, this plan would reduce current year higher education funding by $269 million.

Only $243 million of the $1.2 billion in cuts to public schools are restored.  The House budget adds back only $100 million of a $550 million cut to the basic education subsidy and $100 million of $259 million in Accountability Block Grant funding eliminated in the Governor’s budget.  The House plan leaves intact a $224million cut to the charter school reimbursement, which disproportionately hurts low-income urban schools.

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