Senate Approves FY 2012-13 Budget

Senate Bill 1466 goes to House for consideration

Better than anticipated revenues over the past few months enabled the Senate to pass a General Fund budget bill for Fiscal Year 2012-13 on Wednesday that makes significant restorations without raising taxes, according to Senator Jake Corman, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Senate Bill 1466 will provide substantial restorations to certain areas of the Governor’s proposed budget that reflect the fiscal realities that we have today.  Increased revenues over the past few months allowed us to alter what the Governor had initially proposed back in February, including significant restorations to higher education, basic education, early childhood funding, and social service funding,” Senator Corman said.

General Fund spending for Fiscal Year 2012-13, as proposed in SB 1466, is $27.656 billion, $517.2 million, or 1.9 percent more than the Governor’s budget request in February.

“This budget, which is sustainable and balanced, reflects less than a 2 percent increase over last year, and is still less than the budget passed in 2008,” said Corman. “The budget reaffirms our commitment to keeping spending in line with revenues, and continues to acknowledge that we cannot increase the burden on taxpayers.”

SB 1466 reaffirms Senate Republican’s commitment to providing Pennsylvania’s young people with a quality education from the youngest ages through their college years, Corman stressed. SB 1466 maintains state support for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, State System of Higher Education schools and community colleges at their current levels.

“The significant restorations to higher education get funding back to last year’s level,” Senator Corman said. “With our commitment to higher education, we have received commitments from the three presidents of Penn State, Pitt and Temple, as well as the chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, that the full restoration will give them the ability to keep tuition increases to a minimum, at most no higher than the Consumer Price Index. That will be significant to the families and students around Pennsylvania and a refreshing change for them to see a smaller tuition increase.”

The budget bill also includes additional support for local school districts over what the Governor proposed in February. SB 1466 adds more than $132 million in support for basic education, Accountability Block Grants and early childhood education programs over the February proposal.

Senate Bill 1466 also reinvests significant funding to help counties and local agencies provide essential social and health services to Pennsylvanians with physical and mental disabilities, senior citizens and families.

The bill restores $84 million in funding for the various programs that would be bundled under the Governor’s proposed Human Services Development Block Grant. Under his proposal, funding for multiple county administered programs would be consolidated into a single block grant.

SB 1466 restores $20 million in funding for vital Community Mental Retardation and Intellectual Disability programs that assist thousands of Pennsylvanians and their families on a daily basis.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Mark Meyer