With both chambers of the legislature distracted by Corbett’s anti-worker agenda, the budget passed on Sunday was barely debated, and left many Pennsylvanians behind.
The amended budget was finally passed by the House along a straight party line vote, with all 111 Republicans voting in favor and all 92 Democrats opposing the bill.
Here are a few important aspects of the 2013-2014 budget:
- While the Senate slightly increased education spending when they amended the House budget, over 80% of the cuts to public school classrooms, enacted two years ago, remain in effect.
- Funding for Accountability Block Grants (pre-K, kindergarten, and tutoring) remains flat at $100 million, down from over $250 million in the 2010-2011 budget.
- Funding for The State System of Higher Education, supporting our State’s public universities, remained flat.
- The 10% cut in funding for County Human Services, enacted last year, remained intact in this budget.
- Funding for agricultural programs was reduced by 4.4%.
- Funding for the General Assembly is increased by $4.1 million.
The State Senate this year passed vital legislation by overwhelming bi-partisan majorities that went on to die in the House.
In early June, by a vote of 45-5 the Senate passed a $4.5 billion transportation funding ill with no strings attached, that would have created up to 100,000 new jobs, funded mass transit, and begun the process of repairing and replacing deficient roads and bridges. In the House, the funding was severely reduced, including a 40% reduction to mass transit funding, and the bill was tied to the demand for a liquor privatization vote in the Senate – essentially killing the chance at passing transportation funding this year.
Just this weekend, by a 40-10 vote the Senate opted to enact Medicaid Expansion for Pennsylvania, insuring over half a million of our fellow citizens and creating at least 35,000 good new jobs in the Commonwealth. In the House, Majority Leader Turzai made sure that the House never even got the opportunity to vote on Medicaid expansion.
“It is profoundly disappointing that so many opportunities to put Pennsylvanians back to work in good jobs were left on the table,” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. “We are falling behind the rest of the nation in the pace of job creation. It’s time for our elected officials to make jobs the number one priority in the State Budget.”
“We will continue standing side by side with our unions and our friends as we fight to protect and defend good jobs, good wages, and benefits that sustain families and help build communities. We stand together in unity and solidarity for policies that create and protect good jobs, improve economic opportunities, and grow our middle class here in Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Snyder added.