A very busy day at the Capitol in Harrisburg, as lawmakers, lobbyists and taxpayers gathered to hear Governor Tom Corbett’s 2014-2015 state budget proposal.
The $71.8 billion dollar budget includes big increases for education and social services, and no tax increases, but not everyone is applauding it.
“Governor Corbett you can’t hide! We can see your greedy side!” chanted a group of protestors inside the Capitol Rotunda, even before Gov. Corbett presented his latest proposal in the House chambers.
The large group of several dozen people wore bright orange shirts and criticized what it views as anti-education, pro-corporation policies in the governor’s previous budgets.
This time around, the governor continues his focus on economic development, investing more than $450 million in job training.
“If you make job creation the test, the test for almost every policy, you’re never going to go wrong,” he said in his address before the legislature.
Republican Senator Mike Brubaker, R-District 36, agrees.
“If we don’t have a healthy economy to come with Pennsylvania, everything below that’s important just kind of frays apart,” he said.
The single largest focus of the budget proposal is education. The governor’s proposal includes $400 million in additional education funding.
It calls for an extra $10 million dollars for pre-K education, a $20 million bump in special education funding — the first increase in six years, and $25 million toward merit-based college scholarships for students from middle-income families.
“Let’s give every Pennsylvania student a great start,” Corbett said.
Still, Representative Mike Sturla, D-District 96, wasn’t convinced.
“He cut education in the previous three years, and he throws back a crumb and says, ‘look we’re doing something for education,’” Sturla said.
Other highlights of the proposal include nearly $14 million to train 350 new state troopers, and more than $34 billion for health and human services, including Healthy Pennsylvania, a plan to increase access to health care for needy Pennsylvanians.
The legislature has until June 30th to pass a final budget and get the governor’s signature.