HARRISBURG Penn. Feb 5 Pennsylvania Governor
Tom Corbett asked the state's Republican-led legislature on
Tuesday for pension reform, layoffs, transportation investments
and a $90 million increase in basic education funding in his
proposed budget for fiscal 2014.
The Republican governor's $28.4 billion blueprint, if
approved by lawmakers, is $679 million, or about 2.4 percent,
higher than the current budget and includes no tax increases.
Corbett said he will not expand Pennsylvania's Medicaid
system under federal healthcare reform because it lacks
flexibility and would be too expensive to implement.
He also proposed 400 layoffs in part by consolidating state
health centers and by closing New Castle Youth Development
Pennsylvania's constitution requires a balanced budget to be
adopted by June 30.
Without pension reform, employer contributions in the
state's two pension programs - the State Employee Retirement
System and the Public School Employees' Retirement System -
would balloon from their current 11.5 percent and 12.36 percent,
respectively, to around 30 percent in five years, Corbett said.
His proposal would not affect any benefits already accrued
by current employees, nor will retirees lose any benefits. But
new employees would be automatically enrolled in a 401(a) plan
that would require them to contribute at least 6.25 percent of
Pension costs are on track to eat up most of the state's
available revenue growth, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said at
a media briefing before Corbett's address.
"We would have to go into the general fund, without reform,
and make deep cuts," Zogby said.
His budget also seeks to boost transportation funding. He
proposed gradually removing the cap on a state tax on wholesale
oil distributors, which could generate $5.3 billion over five
years if approved.
The new revenue, the governor said, would help pay for road,
bridge and other transportation infrastructure improvements.
And in keeping with announcements in the weeks leading up to
his budget presentation, Corbett said he wants to privatize the
management of the Pennsylvania Lottery, sell the state's liquor
stores, and provide nearly $15 million to train about 300 new
state police troopers.