Feb 4 Pennsylvania should spend more money on
education and less on public pensions, Governor Tom Corbett said
in the $29.4 billion budget he proposed on Tuesday.
Corbett, a Republican up for re-election this year, was
expected to boost education funding in his fiscal 2015 state
spending plan because the issue has dogged him in the polls.
Only about one in four voters thinks he should be re-elected.
While he kept the state's basic education funding flat at
$5.5 billion, he proposed expanding a $100 million block grant
by an additional $241 million.
Philadelphia's school system - which has had to lay off
thousands of teachers and staffers and close at least two dozen
schools - would get $50.7 million of the grant money, almost 10
times more than the next-closest school district in terms of
The additional money "falls far short of the funding needed
to restore the student programs and services lost to previous
budget cuts," said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President
Philadelphia School District Superintendent William R. Hite
Jr. said he was encouraged by the additional funding and would
review it in the coming days.
Corbett also revived calls on Tuesday for changes to the
state's retirement system for public employees, which has $50
billion of unfunded liabilities and is only about 62 percent
He pushed for reforms last year that would lower state and
local payments into the system while cutting benefits for future
workers and move them onto a defined-contribution, 401(k)-style
But the legislature, controlled by his own party, did not
act on the proposals.
Corbett also proposed increasing spending on state police,
as well as allowing some natural gas drilling on public lands,
which could bring in $75 million of immediate revenue, plus
Overall, the budget for public welfare would rise by 3.9
percent due to increased spending on programs that address
domestic violence and rape, as well as inpatient and outpatient
Corbett suggested a 10 percent cut to the conservation and
natural resources department, which includes parks. He also
would eliminate appropriations for eight agriculture programs, a
veterans assistance program and multiple health programs,
including for diabetes, regional poison control centers and