Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State Senate Votes to Boost Spending 2013 Budget Tops Corbett's by $500M

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

State Senate Votes to Boost Spending 2013 Budget Tops Corbett's by $500M

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- A state budget for next year that would spend $500 million more than the governor's proposal passed the Senate on Wednesday, setting up weeks of give-and-take between the Corbett administration and Republican legislative leaders.

The $27.65 billion Senate plan was approved on a vote of 39-8, and now awaits further action in the House.

Gov. Tom Corbett and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R- Bradford Woods, said the Senate budget, which restores portions of the Republican governor's cuts to education and social services, represents the "ceiling" for debates over how much revenue the state should spend next fiscal year.

"These are negotiations," Mr. Corbett told reporters following an event near Harrisburg. "Negotiations have two ends, and you work toward something in between."

He and House Republicans have positioned themselves as open to some additional spending beyond his $27.14 billion proposal, though shied away from immediately signing on to any of the Senate's adjustments.

Senate Republicans described their plan as responsible and sustainable.

"This plan does not create a single new program. It does not raise a single tax," said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R- Delaware.

Among the chamber's biggest changes was reversing the governor's higher-education cuts.

The bill approved Wednesday would undo the 20 percent cut to the 14 state-owned universities. Related bills allocating dollars to the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and two other colleges were amended this week to restore full funding, but the measures were not voted by the Senate on Wednesday.

The colleges have pledged to keep tuition hikes low if their state aid is maintained in the final budget.

Other restorations compared to the governor's plan include $50 million in block grants to public schools for kindergarten and preschool programs, and another $50 million targeted for distressed schools. …

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