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Corbett Addresses Obamacare, Education, Transportation in Proposed Budget

The governor has raised funding in some areas but at least some opponents don't feel the budget addresses important issues.

Gov. Tom Corbett delivered highlights of his proposed 2013-14 budget in a speech before the state Legislature on Tuesday morning.

The $28.4 billion state budget plan, a 2.4 percent increase over this year, includes no general tax increases.

In one of the most controversial areas, Corbett recommended against expanding Medicaid, as provided for under the Affordable Health Care Act. Corbett plans to ask the federal government for flexibililty to let Pennsylvania customize the health insurance program for its needs or have the state reject the Medicaid expansion.

Under the act, also known as Obamacare, Medicaid could expand to cover people earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level and provide coverage for upwards of 600,000 uninsured Pennsylvania residents. The federal government said it will cover 100 percent of the benefit costs for the expansion until 2020, and 90 percent after that.

"One half-million working families need health care and that what this program can do," said Sen. Jay Costa, state Senate minority floor leader, when interviewed on PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) after the governor's presentation.

Opponents of the proposals said the budget comes up short in some other areas. Costa said the proposal did not address jobs creation.

But supporters felt the governor's proposal does do that.

"By taking steps to reform and reduce our tax burden, Pennsylvania is on track for yet another influx of jobs and economic activity," Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said in a press statement following the speech. "Gov. Corbett’s budget will see that Pennsylvania tackles pension and liquor reforms along with our transportation infrastructure that hasn’t been approached in more than 30 years.”

Corbett suggested privatizing liquor sales and using the money saved toward funding education. The proposed budget steers $5.4 billion in new money over five years for enhanced maintenance of and improvements to roads, bridges and public transit systems.

With the proposal on the table, the state House and Senate can start hashing out details for the 2013-14 budget, which must be approved by the end of June.

The full text of Corbett's speech can be found by clicking here. Some of the other highlights are:

Education

  • Adding $6.4 million dollars toward Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs. 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.
  • Expanding funding for K-through-12 education by adding nearly $100 million dollars to be distributed to school districts "over and above last year's record funding levels," Corbett said. 
  • Maintains $1.58 billion full-funding levels for state and state-related universities. 
  • "Passport for Learning" Block Grant provides $1 billion dollar program to enrich public schools over the next four years with: "Ready by 3" that enhances elementary reading and mathematics through third grade, customized learning plans, funding to invest in programs and equipment that support science and math in grades six through 12, and providing schools money to invest in the necessary safety and security measures.

Transportation

  • Calls on the legislature to pass a 17 percent reduction in the flat liquid fuels tax paid by consumers at the pump.
  • Begin a five-year phase out of an artificial and outdated cap on the tax paid by oil and gas companies on the wholesale price of gasoline.

Pension Reforms

  • No cuts to any retiree benefits for state employees or public school teachers.
  • The budget will provide another $140 million dollars in pension savings for school districts across the state.
  • Create a new 401(k)-style retirement benefit for future employees consistent with the retirement packages of private sector employees.

Health and Human Services

  • Dedicates $40 million dollars to provide critical services to an additional 3,000 men, women and children with physical and intellectual disabilities. This will allow them to live independently in their homes and communities.
  • Proposed budget includes more than $8 million dollars in additional resources to provide health care coverage to more than 9,300 additional children through CHIP.
  • Adds $50 million dollars for senior programs.

Are you impacted by any of the budget proposals? Do you think the governor's plan is good or do you feel it doesn't address the Commonwealth's needs? Let us know in the comments section.

Pat February 06, 2013 at 06:25 PM
I'm reading through the reporter's article noticing words like "adding," "expanding," "maintaining," "enhancing," etc., and the first comment I see (Jo Bagadonuts) laments how education, healthcare, and other critical programs are being "cut" and taxes aren't being raised high enough.--Befuddled
Roger February 06, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Greg, I don't think you read the proposals. If you did, you would not be making your comments about the oil and gas. Removing the cap means much more money from them, exactly what was wanted a year or so ago. Now, that Corbett has made this provision, the objectors still are griping. I was waiting for somebody to continue the same dialogue about Corbett and the oil/gas industry, without reading what was proposed. My wait was not long.
Roger February 06, 2013 at 06:41 PM
The pension program was long due for changes. Hearing the opposition now about "impending disaster" is very sad. The previous path is not sustainable, and changes have to be made. Finally, somebody had the courage to stand to the table and propose changes. No, the changes aren't very much, and will not impact very many people. But, it is a start to change that has been long overdue. The "impending disaster" characterization is done, as if the present path is NOT "impending disaster." The only outstanding question: Are the changes too little, too late, to avoid the disaster?
Roger February 06, 2013 at 06:44 PM
I would like to know about the $50M for "senior programs." I thought the lottery was so important to fund senior programs. I must be very naive, but I cannot name one program that the lottery provides funds for senior programs? Help me out please. And, tell me what another $50M will do for seniors that is now missing.
Roger February 06, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Steeler, ... why bother with an investigation? The investigation is sure to cost money, money that could be saved. In your world, no money is needed, as you have already sent him to jail. Investigations are such a waste of time anyway. They inconvenience so many people, and consume manpower that could be better spent elsewhere. Further, there is no reason to believe Corbett is not guilty, just like any other person who might be associated with any crime. Forget the legal system!! Put all those people out to other jobs, where they can make something, or provide a needed service. The legal process is clearly not a needed service.
bender February 06, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Well said Joe bagofdonuts Corbett has instituted several back door tax raises like the internet tax the gun range fee selling lottery to a. Foreign entity. now he wants to raise the price of gas by Dollar gallon this guy needs impeached
bender February 06, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Ok orbit cares about Is making money off the middle class For his corporate contributors
Roger February 06, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Please point us to the fact of $1.00/gal gas increase. Who submitted bids on the lottery auction?
JS February 06, 2013 at 11:12 PM
cc - as usual you have it completely wrong. Rendell pushed for gas extraction taxes constantly at the end of his term. It was the Republican led state Senate that refused to act. State senators and reps are in the pockets of the gas lobby, as is Corbett. We will never get the money from the drillers that other states are getting. Just wait until we get the bill for cleaning up after them.
Oren Spiegler February 07, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Greg, I concur with you completely on the governor’s failure to tax the Marcellus Shale drilling companies at a rate which is commensurate with that which is assessed in other states in which this industry thrives. This would have contributed several hundred million dollars to state coffers. The drillers would not leave the state if they were assessed the same tax as other states levy. In comparing Governor Corbett’s pension calamity to President Obama’s budget situation is apples and oranges, and you bet I am blaming Governor Rendell (and Governor Ridge and their General Assemblies, who chose to ignore the problem as it ballooned). What was Governor Corbett to do with pension obligations that were dumped on him? The only argument that could be made in opposition to him is that he should have addressed the matter in his first year in office, not his third. President Obama had a choice in what to spend. He has elected not only to maintain, but to accelerate the overspending initiated by fake conservative George W. Bush through offering cradle to grave care, placing no emphasis on personal responsibility.
bob balmer February 07, 2013 at 01:00 AM
You have something there Greg! When President Obama supporters blame W they go nuts. But here they are blaming "spendell" for Corbett's issues.
cc February 07, 2013 at 01:42 AM
When is it the responsibility of the state to provide medical to people that don't want to buy it on their own. Thank goodness that Corbett isn't going along with obamacare. Eventually obama is going to run out of people to supply free healthcare to the free loaders.
cc February 07, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Let see what the Lottery does for Seniors, Property Tax Rebates, Rent Rebates for Seniors Free and Reduced-Fare Transit for Seniors Reduced Vehicle Registration Fees Co-pay prescription Drug Programs Meals-on-Wheels In-Home Care 52 Area Office on Aging Senior Centers are subsidize though the lottery so they have somewhere to go during the week days
Roger February 07, 2013 at 10:58 AM
cc ... good list. How is a senior citizen to know about taking advantage of these programs?
bob balmer February 07, 2013 at 11:17 AM
This is similar to what president Obama is doing with W
bd February 07, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Sorry Bob but we all learned from Obama and the Democrats that when their programs are failures, just blame the other guy. It worked for the community organizer so it should work for Corbett as well. Corbett needs to come out daily and blame Rendell for the mess that the state is in.
bob balmer February 07, 2013 at 07:36 PM
So you can have it both ways?
bd February 07, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Sure, Bob. Like promising fiscal responsibility and debt reduction and then saying that there will be no cuts to entitlement programs at the federal level. Obamanomics.
cc February 08, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Roger, Any of the 52 Area Office on Aging can pass on this information. Also you can get information of the Pennsylvania site. I know many senior citizens that use many of these service. You can also ask your state rep or congress person what does the Pa Lottery support. This is only part of the list that I posted but there is more benefits for seniors in Pennsylvania.
Roger February 08, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Thanks, cc. I've never heard of 52 Office of Aging. This strikes me as some other social programs, "Well, everybody knows ...." Wrong. Communication about many programs is absent. People only learn about them through word of mouth, or some grapevine.
cc February 08, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Roger, I have helped one of my neighbors who is in their 70's get some services in their home because they were having a hard time doing things them self. It is ran though the County and here is the address for anyone who had elderly parents, relatives or neighbors that need help but don't have the resources to pay for services. Area Agency on Aging Mission: To assist Allegheny County residents, age 60 years and older, to live safe, healthy and, when possible, independent lives. Administrator Mildred E. Morrison 441 Smithfield Street Second Floor Pittsburgh, PA 15222-2219 SeniorLine: (412) 350-5460 Toll Free: (800) 344-4319 Fax: (412) 350-4330 TDD/TTY: (412) 350-2727 email: SeniorLine@alleghenycounty.us Business Office: (412) 350-4234 Many of the Senior Centers have advocates that help Senior get services in place in their homes paid though the lottery. I have Access picking up my neighbor on a daily bases and taking her to the center. They feed them a hot meal for 50 cents a day, they do exercises, play bingo,have dances, go on field trips to the zoo, to the Science Center. I also volunteer at the center she goes to 4 hours a week and have filled out paperwork for Seniors so they can get some of these free programs that the lottery pays for. If you ever have a question on this, please send a message and will be happy to point you in the right direction for help.
cc February 08, 2013 at 01:48 PM
obamanomics needs to go along with obama
JS February 08, 2013 at 02:02 PM
bd- A quote from a statement Obama made on Tuesday - "The proposals that I’ve put forward during the fiscal cliff negotiations, in discussions with Speaker Boehner and others, are still very much on the table. I just want to repeat; the deals that I put forward, the balanced approach of spending cuts and entitlement reform and tax reform that I put forward are still on the table. I’ve offered sensible reforms to Medicare and other entitlements and my healthcare proposals achieved the same amount of savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms that have been proposed by the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission." While some insist that Obama offers no cuts to entitlement programs, the actual facts say something different. It may not be as steep as you, or the media that you get your information from, want, but he always has proposed entitlement cuts as part of a balanced debt reduction plan. There are extremists on both sides - those that want no spending cuts and those that want no revenue increases - Obama is not an extremist and no amount of lying and screaming and bumper sticker arguments from the right will change that fact.
Sue T February 08, 2013 at 05:05 PM
@JS--please provide a link to the infomation so we can see the specifics for what Obama is proposing.
bd February 08, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Obama proposes nothing but words. No substance. Exactly what were "his" entitlement cut proposals? The fiscal cliff episide proved that Obama and the Dems will say that entitlement cuts are "on the table" but in reality are a weapon to use against the Republicans. And, the low information voters believe the lies. I have been around awhile and it has always been this way. I even remember the rich 1 per-center Al Gore claiming that the Democrats were saving Social Security against the GOP by putting it a "lockbox." Smoke and mirrors by the Dems but the media laps it up and spits it out to the masses. And who was it that really cut Medicare for the elderly. Why, it was Obama in Obamacare by $500 billion.
JS February 08, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Sorry guys, not going to do your research for you. It's been in all the papers. I know Rush and Sean don't talk about it and theblaze.com isn't going into specifics, but the mainstream media pretty much has covered what Obama is proposing, what Boehner is proposing and what the tea party and left wing extremists want. You just have to pay attention.
Sue T February 08, 2013 at 06:53 PM
bd, that's why I asked JS the question. I've been waiting for Obama to actually put out a plan. I have yet to see one. If JS has some souirce to what this plan is, then he should provide it. If he can't, then the quote JS posted is just another vague statement from Obama with no substance behind it.
Sue T February 08, 2013 at 06:56 PM
And, according to NE12UKid, sources are required for any quotes posted on this site.
Sue T February 08, 2013 at 07:02 PM
JS---I only have one source for any Obama plan, and that is what he said he would provide them for the public, on the White House website. I haven't been able to locate the plan there. I consider any out source (main media, cable news, newspapers) inaccurate as they paraphrase and put their own sland on things. When I want to know about a proposed bill, I go to the Federal Register and read it. I've read abouit two-thirds of the ACA for example. If it is information on a hearing or press conference, I go to CSPAN so I can see the information unedited. So, I will continue to watch the WH website for our president's plan.
NE12Ukid April 25, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Sue T1:56 pm on Friday, February 8, 2013 And, according to NE12UKid, sources are required for any quotes posted on this site.>>>> Where and when did I say that, SueT from Forest Hills/ Regent Square Patch? I don't make the Patch rules, but I know that the editor of the B-W Patch has several times informed posters to not post information without some kind of verification. But doesn't that just make sense? Who'd put any consideration into a QUOTE that was unattributed in any way? OTOH, it seems that the poster here had already indicated the source of his quote above. Not linked but identified where it came from. He just wasn't willing to add additional research into finding additional information for you, which is understandable, considering the tone of the discussion.

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