A Quick Take on House GOP Budget Plan

A blog post from Chris Lilienthal, originally published on Third and State.

Pennsylvania House Republican leaders unveiled a state budget plan today that cuts $470 million in health and human services for vulnerable Pennsylvanians, while leaving in tact hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to schools, full-day kindergarten, Penn State and other colleges.

The plan would restore some of the deep cuts to education proposed in Governor Corbett's budget blueprint — $387 million to the 18 state-supported colleges and universities and $210 million to public schools.

In March, Governor Corbett proposed $1.2 billion in cuts to education funding, including a $550 million cut to basic education funding, rolling back funding to 2008-09 levels. His plan also eliminates $259 million in funding for the Accountability Block Grant, which funds prekindergarten programs, full-day kindergarten and early childhood tutoring programs. The House GOP plan restores $100 million for basic education and $100 million for the early childhood programs. Still, this plan would cut about $1 billion for public schools.

The Governor also proposed a 50% cut to funding for the 14 colleges that comprise the State System of Higher Education, a 48% cut to Penn State's funding and a 50% cut to funding for the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University. The House GOP plan would still cut current state funding by 15% for the State System schools and by 25% for Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln.

Notably, the plan leaves a $506 million revenue surplus on the sidelines.

The House plan also cuts $15 million out of the legislative budget and alters how the state reimburses school districts for Social Security payments in a way that will benefit wealthier school districts.

House Republican leaders said the Department of Public Welfare cuts were based on the belief that there is a 4% error rate within the department. The Governor, however, has raised doubts about basing a budget on projected savings by reducing errors.

Details on specific funding lines in the House plan were not available Tuesday afternoon. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will have a full analysis once those details are released.

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