State House Republicans Introduce Budget Bill

State house Republican leaders have rolled out their budget plan, calling for less spending than the Governor requested.  The house budget would spend about 100 million dollars less than the proposal presented by Governor Tom Corbett in February. The total amount is still about   600 million dollars more in spending than this fiscal year.

Appropriations Committee Chair Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) says the 28.3 billion dollar general fund plan represents the priorities of the house, but is by no means a final budget. With just over a month before the start of the new fiscal year, he says it’s their intention to have a budget in place on time.

The plan calls for a 100 million dollar increase for basic education, which includes 10 billion dollars for total pre-K education.  Representative Adolph called it the highest amount of state funding ever.

The plan also includes greater support for certain health programs, county conservation districts and the state open records office.

It does not include savings from a proposed pension reform plan. Representative Adolph says it would cover pension obligations without making reforms, using balances in the school employee’s retirement appropriations for the last two fiscal years.

It also does not include any proceeds from proposed liquor store privatization or the proposed transportation funding plan. It also does not include any funds related to an expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. Governor Corbett has been concerned about the costs of such an expansion and unwilling to make a final decision yet, pending more information from the federal government.

House Democrats called the budget plan  an improvement over the Governor’s plan, but expressed concern over human service and special education funding levels.