HARRISBURG—Governor Tom Corbett is set to address the General Assembly when he unveils the 2012/2013 state budget later this morning. The state is in a tough economic place and cuts are expected to run deep.
It's no surprise that these are some tough economic times. The state is already facing a shortfall of almost $500 million and the year is only half over. When Governor Tom Corbett addresses the General Assembly later this morning, he is expected to talk cuts and they could be severe.
Eugene DePasquale, (D) York.
Democrats are already worried about where and how deep the cuts may cut. Last year, the governor proposed a nearly billion dollar cut to public and higher education. That number dropped significantly after final negotiations.
Reports say the 18 state and state-related universities could see another 20 to 30 percent slash in this year's proposal. Cuts to public education are also possible.
"If you go even further, many of our struggling school districts could be forced to not actually be able to make pay roll," said DePasquale.
Funding for healthcare and the mentally challenged is also rumored to be on the chopping block. The Commonwealth is dealing with another shortfall. According to the Department of Revenue, tax collections for this year are already falling nearly $500 million short of expectations.
"When you see tax revenue falling off at the state level, that means tough choices again that have to be made in terms of how we allocate money out to the various priorities," said Representative Gordon Denlinger, (R) 99th District.
Something that could help that revenue stream is a tax or fee on the Marcellus Shale oil drilling region. Legislators in a House-Senate committee agreed on a proposal that could get a vote on the open floor in the Senate as soon as today.
However, many Democrats feel this compromise does not go far enough leaving the environment in harms way and allowing the gas companies to get richer on the state's dime.
One thing Governor Tom Corbett campaigned on two years ago was no new taxes. He accomplished that last year and is expected to do that again this year.
The specific details of the Governor's plan will be released during his address to the joint assembly. That is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. The budget has to be in place by June 30.