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Gov. Corbett Unveils Proposed 2013-14 Budget, $1.58 Billion Going Toward Higher Education

by on February 05, 2013 2:44 PM

Penn State President Rodney Erickson was in the Capitol Building in Harrisburg when Gov. Tom Corbett presented his proposed budget for 2013-14, which, if passed, includes $1.58 billion in appropriations for Pennsylvania universities. 

Corbett expressed thanks to the university presidents who have pledged to keep tuition increases as low as possible in the next academic year in exchange for level funding. 

Our commitment allows schools to plan their budgets for the coming year and make the best use of their resources. Their commitment should allow students and their families to plan their own budgets," Corbett said. 

In past years, schools have been forced to deal with sweeping cuts across all educational levels. Now, Corbett is proposing $5.5 billion dollars to education from the pre-kindergarden level through grade 12 in high school, he said, which adds $100 million to school districts.

The governor proposed $6.4 million go toward Head Start programs for children younger than kindgarden age. 

"This money gives an additional 3,200 children, and their families, access to quality full and part-day programs as well as summer kindergarten readiness programs.

"Why do we want to spend more on these programs? Because every child in Pennsylvania deserves an equal start in life, and I intend to see that promise kept," Corbett said. 

Right on the heels of education funding, Corbett switched to his proposal to privatize the liquor business and give the money to public education. 

"Selling liquor is not a core function of government. Education is," Corbett said. 

"Pennsylvanians have waited too long for the day they could buy beer or wine at the grocery store or choose from a greater variety of offerings at privately owned liquor stores," he said. "This is our opportunity and our children's."

Corbett called the state of Pa.'s pensions "a mountain of debt, and the avalanche could bury our economic growth, swallow up benefits for our elderly, education for our children, and transportation for our economy.

"We cannot let that happen. We cannot allow hard-working teachers and state employees to be threatened by the loss of their pensions. Nor can we allow the burden of saving those pensions to snowball into a nightmare of economic hardship for our children.

"Resolving our pension crisis will be the single most important thing we do for decades to come," Corbett said. 

The governor pledged to allow no cuts to benefits for retirees, nor will he allow any pension dollars already earned to by any current employee to be diminished in any way.

What needs to be done, Corbett said, "is to is to create a new 401(k)-style retirement benefit for our future employees consistent with the retirement packages currently enjoyed almost universally by private sector employee." 

Corbett said 'meaningful pension reform' will another $140 million in pension savings for school districts across the state. 

The federal government has asked states to expand Medicad as part of the Affordable Care Act. Corbett said his office has received no "clear guidance" or any "reasonable assurances" that would lead him to want to recommend reforming Medicaid, which he said he will not be doing. 

Gov. Tom Corbett's 2013-14 Budget Speech by

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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