Just 3 hours and 10 minutes before the start of the new fiscal year, lawmakers in the state House of Representatives voted to approve a nearly $28.4 billion General Fund spending plan. That sends the budget to Governor Tom Corbett’s desk for his signature just before the clock strikes midnight.
Earlier Sunday, the budget passed the state Senate on a 33-17 vote. In the House, the final tally was 111 to 92. Most democrats opposed the plan on the basis of the education line items, but Republicans pointed to a late deal to increase funding to the embattled Philadelphia School District, where a $300 million deficit stands to result in thousands of layoffs. House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Allegheny) pointed out that the total increased state aid package to Philadelphia will help make up about $190 million of that shortfall.
The new budget spends about 2.3% more than the current year’s budget. That includes about $40 million more for public education than was proposed by Governor Corbett in February. The budget includes increases for early childhood education, including Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
Still unresolved as of late Sunday night: the issues of transportation funding, alcohol sales expansion and pension reform. Back room meetings, negotiations and deal-making did not result in breakthroughs on those topics this weekend, but lawmakers have scheduled more session time in the coming week, a rare move given that passage of the budget typically signals the end of the legislature’s work for the summer.
UPDATE: Governor Tom Corbett has signed the budget bill