Gov. Tom Corbett’s state budget plan is now out of step with his own party.
State Senate Republican leaders are pushing a plan to restore some of the funding for colleges, public schools and social services that were deeply cut under the state budget proposed by the Republican governor. The state House now has the Senate’s budget plan.
The Senate GOP plan would restore more than $240 million to the governor’s proposed cuts to public colleges. Their budget proposal would maintain funding for all state-owned, state-related and community colleges at current levels.
In addition to colleges, financially distressed school districts could also benefit in the Senate plan. The plan will contain about $50 million for the state’s severely cash-strapped school districts.
The Senate plan would also provide $84 million more than the governor has proposed for state block grants to counties for social service programs.
Senate Republican leaders said the changes are possible because of better than expected state tax collections in the past three months and expected savings in pension and debt-services costs.
Yet the governor is standing by his deep cuts in education and social service programs.
In a speech to a Harrisburg-area business group, the governor said the state’s bills must be paid before he will consider rolling back the cuts he has proposed. He said the money is also needed to defray rising pension costs.
Republicans who control the state Senate approved an alternative spending plan Wednesday that would avoid many of the cuts Corbett proposes.
Under the $27.7 billion Senate plan, Pennsylvania’s universities, public schools, hospital, nursing homes and people who depend on county-run social services would benefit.
The Senate GOP plan falls short of restoring the adequate funding needed for education, the disabled and other social services, but it is better than the budget proposed by Corbett.