State Budgets 2012: Pennsylvania



To see more state budget news and information, visit State Budgets 2012

Budget Background:

  • Fiscal Year Begins: July 
  • Frequency of Legislative Cycle: Annual
  • Legislative Session for 2012: Convened January 3, 2012
  • Frequency of Budget Cycle: Annual

Learn more from the National Association of State Budget Officers

Budget News and Information: 2012


4/2/12: Pennsylvania budget calls for lumping much school aid into block grants

The biggest change in Gov. Corbett's proposed education budget for the 2012-13 school year is his plan to use block grants to dole out a large portion of the state's public education payments to school districts. He proposes setting aside $6.5 billion for the grants, which would cover basic education funding - an all-purpose state subsidy to school districts - and state reimbursement programs for local Social Security payments and transportation costs.

Read more:  Philadelphia Inquirer

4/1/12: Corbett Budget Czar: It's Up To Lawmakers To Offset Cuts

As they look to restore proposed cuts to higher education and other state programs, it'll be up to state lawmakers, and  not Gov. Tom Corbett, to find the money to do that, administration Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said Sunday.  In an appearance on the "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" public affairs show, the budget czar said that as he watched lawmakers call for restorations last month's hearings on the administration's $27.14 billion budget, "I didn't hear anyone talk about where they'd take the money."  "Every dollar that comes back," into the spending plan, has to come from somewhere else inside the fiscal document, Zogby told host G. Terry Madonna.

Read more: Allentown Morning Call

3/16/12: Lawsuit seeks to halt Pa. welfare cuts at the pass

Gov. Tom Corbett and Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander said filing a lawsuit over Corbett’s proposed budget is frivolous.  But, the Pennsylvania Disability Rights Network said it is seeking to protect critical services threatened by Corbett's proposed cut of $319 million, effectively killing the state's General Assistance Program. The organization's lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Commonwealth Court.

Read more: Delaware County Daily Times

3/6/12: Legislature, state education secretary spar over Corbett's budget

Budgetary semantics and spiraling pension obligations. Those topics denominated a three-hour-and-15-minute state House hearing Monday on Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed $8.2 billion spending plan for public education for next year. The Republicans and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee agreed that Corbett's proposal reduced 2012-13 spending by $100 million over current levels. Education Secretary Ron Tomalis disagreed.

Read more: Morning Call

2/28/12: Democrats balk at cuts in Pennsylvania welfare spending

State Democratic senators angrily challenged Gov. Tom Corbett’s top public welfare official Tuesday over the administration’s moves to stop the growth of spending on a wide range of social safety-net programs despite rising demand and health care costs. Among the Corbett administration’s proposals are eliminating cash payments to poor adults, cutting 20 percent from aid for county-run social service programs, raising fees or copayments for people to use certain services and cutting reimbursements by 4 percent to hospitals and nursing homes that care for the poor.

Read more: Pottstown Mercury

2/22/12: Universities ask Pa. House to reject more aid cuts

Leaders of Penn State, Pitt and Temple warned the state House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday not to go along with Gov. Tom Corbett's second straight proposal for deep cuts in state aid to the universities, suggesting that the in-state students who could least afford it would be hurt the most.

Read more: Associated Press

2/21/12: Towns may lose ticket revenue under Corbett's budget

More than 1,200 towns in Pennsylvania that rely exclusively on state police for protection would forfeit revenue from traffic ticket fines under Gov. Tom Corbett's 2012 budget proposal.  Under the current arrangement, a traffic fine is split 50-50 between the state and the town, Corbett spokeswoman Susan Hooper said. Corbett proposed to redirect the towns' share of ticket revenue to the state police for the purchase of radio equipment this year and for other equipment, as needed, thereafter.

Read more: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

2/18/12: Corbett defends his proposed $27 billion budget

Gov. Tom Corbett stood by his proposed $27.14 billion budget Friday as he stood in an example of what he said government should create -- an environment for private companies like Robinson-based Calgon Carbon Corp. to grow.  Mr. Corbett, who has been traveling around the state this week promoting his budget, reiterated his commitment Friday to not raising taxes and explained his thinking regarding higher-education funding, a part of his budget proposal that has received sharp criticism.

Read more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

2/8/12: Corbett's Pennsylvania budget holds the line on school spending for the most part

In contrast to dramatic cuts a year ago, Gov. Corbett's proposed $9.5 billion public school budget largely holds the line on spending - with one key exception. Corbett once again wants to eliminate the $100 million Accountability Block Grant Program, used largely to pay for full-day kindergarten and some pre-kindergarten programs. He sought to eliminate the same funding last year, but the legislature restored some money. In his speech, Corbett was silent about two hot-button issues that have dominated debate in the last year: vouchers and charter school expansion. He did call for the creation of new state report cards for school districts and for reinventing teacher job evaluations. The proposed block-grant cut elicited the most reaction.

Read more: Philadelphia Inquirer

2/8/12: Under Pa. plan, state-system colleges could lose a third of their funding - after 2011's 20 percent cut

Gov. Corbett promised "a thorough, public, and candid conversation" about the rising cost of higher education in announcing a budget that slashes state support to colleges for the second straight year. The proposed cuts of up to 30 percent, on top of a nearly 20 percent reduction last year, are leading observers in Harrisburg and elsewhere to question whether a major shift is at hand: an effort to defund what some Republican legislators see as wasteful public universities in an era of shrinking resources.

Read More: Philadelphia Inquirer

2/17/12: PA Republican leader warns of 'dramatic' and 'difficult' cuts in Corbett budget

Pennsylvania's top-ranking senator says he expects dramatic and difficult spending cuts in Gov. Tom Corbett's budget plan. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said Monday that Pennsylvanians should be prepared for a debate on how best to use tax dollars, and he warned that he can't envision lawmakers raising taxes to ease spending cuts. Corbett is delivering his budget plan Tuesday for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The state must increase spending on pensions and debt, and advocates for the poor and education worry that spending on their causes will be cut to absorb the difference. Meanwhile, business advocates are pushing for tax cuts and Pennsylvania's current-year tax collections are running behind expectations.

Read more: Associated Press

2/7/12: Corbett Budget Plan Draws Sharp Criticism

Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett said on Tuesday his budget proposals lay the groundwork for making tough decisions leading to “the prosperity of tomorrow.” There are some strong disagreements about the budget decisions the governor is making. "Homeowners will pay higher taxes because of Tom Corbett's budget and families will pay more for college because of Tom Corbett's budget,” said Jim Burn, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman.

Read more: NBC 10


Budget News and Information: Previous Budget Cycles

6/13/11: Revenue Tracker: May Collections Put State's Revenue Surplus at $539 Million

Better-than-expected General Fund revenue collections brought Pennsylvania's fiscal-year surplus to $539 million in May. With only one month left in the fiscal year, the state is very likely to have a significant year-end revenue surplus that could help to offset proposed cuts to K-12 education, colleges, health care and human services in the 2011-12 budget.

Read more: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

6/11/11: Do Pa.'s poorest school districts have to take bigger cuts? Some say the wealthier should

When Gov. Tom Corbett chose to cut Pennsylvania's way out of a projected multibillion-dollar budget deficit, he started by taking a disproportionate chunk of state aid away from the state's poorest school districts. Why not approach it by taking a disproportionate amount of state aid away from the districts that can best afford it — the wealthiest?

"That's a great question," said Jim Buckheit of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators. At this point, top lawmakers appear to be in the final weeks of assembling a budget that will deliver a heavy reduction in state aid to public schools, and they are unlikely to reverse the approach to cuts in state aid originally taken by Corbett.

Read more: Associated Press

5/25/11: House Republicans pass budget bill over Democratic protests

The state House voted mostly along party lines to approve a $27.3 billion general fund budget bill Tuesday evening. The bill goes to the state Senate for consideration, but it is expected to return to the state House before the June 30 budget deadline after the Senate makes changes. Republican leaders said they were following through on an Election Day mandate to reduce spending and pass an on-time budget without tax increases. The budget passed by the House represents a $700 million reduction from the current year’s $28 billion budget.

Read more: The Mercury (Pottstown)

5/24/11: House Passes Budget

A House Republican budget that partially restores Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts to public and higher education by carving funding out of social welfare programs is on its way to the state Senate. The state House voted 109-92 on Tuesday after hours of tempestuous debate to approve its version of Corbett's $27.3 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The vote sets the stage for what is likely to be a grueling debate on the spending plan, which legislative leaders in the majority Republican House and Senate hope to have on Corbett's desk before the June 30 deadline to approve a new budget.

Read more: Allentown Morning Call

5/23/11: GOP eyes restoring some education funding

The Republican-controlled state House advanced its version of Gov. Tom Corbett's $27.3 billion budget on Monday night, positioning a spending plan that partially restores the administration's deep cuts to public and higher education by carving funding out of social welfare programs. A vote on the budget could come as soon as Tuesday. But agreement between House GOP leaders and the majority-Republican Senate on a host of issues, from whether to spend an anticipated $500 million surplus to whether to approve a proposed impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers, remain unresolved. Corbett has said he'll consider whatever spending plan lawmakers send him, as long as it comes in at his proposed $27.3 billion and is approved before the June 30 deadline.

Read more: Allentown Morning Call

4/10/11: GOP lawmakers pivot on Corbett budget

With signs evident of public backlash to Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed cuts in state aid to higher education, Republican lawmakers are looking to restore that funding and make up the difference with cuts instead to public welfare programs. Leaders of the GOP-controlled House and Senate said last week they will reshape the budget to maintain as much state aid to state-owned universities and ones like The Pennsylvania State University that receive substantial amounts of state aid as possible.

Read more: The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre)

4/10/11: A tax that dares not speak its name

Sitting in a state House hearing on Gov. Tom Corbett's $27.3 billion budget proposal, Charles Zogby reached his boiling point. Pressed repeatedly on his boss's opposition to a "severance tax" on natural gas drillers, Corbett's usually unflappable budget secretary snapped at Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee. "We can talk about this until the cows come," said Zogby, who, with his sharply parted hair and impeccably knotted ties brings an executive's poise to the coffee-ringed culture of state government. "The governor is not interested in raising taxes. Period." But Zogby can only wish it were that easy to shut down debate on a severance tax, a levy on the gas that drillers take out of the ground. With scores of state programs under the knife to close a $4.1 billion budget deficit, the chorus of those unwilling to let the subject drop has grown louder.

Read more: Allentown Morning Call

4/9/11: Pa. Legislature's quest to soften Corbett's school-aid cuts could target safety-net services

A GOP senator's exchange with Gov. Tom Corbett's top budget-maker may have provided the best hints about the future direction of the state spending debate currently dominating the agenda in Republican-controlled Harrisburg. Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, whose district includes Bloomsburg University, expressed concern during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing last month about Corbett's proposed cuts to Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities. He also confessed to surprise that Corbett's spending plan didn't find what he called significant savings in the state's broad range of social and human service programs.

Read more:  Associated Press


3/23/11: Pa. State System of Higher Education Chancellor gets a sympathetic ear in pleas to trim Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed funding cuts

Republican and Democratic senators are balking at Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed $271 million cut for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. At a Senate budget hearing, senators told system Chancellor John Cavanaugh that they didn't support the governor's 54 percent cut to the 14 schools that provide the most affordable four-year degrees in the commonwealth. 

Read more: Harrisburg Patriot-News

3/22/11: State schools faculty offers pay freeze

Just how dire is the state funding outlook for higher education in Pennsylvania next year? It's looking so bad the union representing 6,000 faculty and coaches at the 14 state-owned universities announced Monday it had "agreed in principle" to negotiate a wage freeze.

Read more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

3/21/11: Gov. Tom Corbett eyes overhaul of Pennsylvania's tobacco settlement money

Gov. Tom Corbett is proposing an overhaul of how Pennsylvania state government uses the proceeds from a 1998 legal settlement with the major cigarette manufacturers. In his first budget proposal, Corbett wants to shift the annual deposit of hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement money into the state’s main bank account, rather than keep it as a separate fund for public health programs, and then use the lion’s share for a program that isn’t related to public health. The proposed change drew criticism from state Sen. John Blake, a former chairman of the Tobacco Settlement Investment Board.   

Read more: Associated Press

3/18/11: Corbett ignores opinion polls on taxes and budget cuts

Gov. Tom Corbett says he's not deterred in his budget-balancing plans by a new poll showing strong opposition to his proposed cuts and support for raising certain taxes. "We didn't campaign based on polls, and we're not going to govern based on a poll," Mr. Corbett told reporters Thursday at an event in Scranton. The survey by Franklin & Marshall College showed support for taxing smokeless tobacco and natural gas extraction. A levy on smokeless tobacco was favored by 72 percent of respondents, and 62 percent said they would like to see a natural gas severance tax.

Read more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

3/17/11: Corbett defends college cuts

Gov. Tom Corbett hit back Thursday at critics of his proposed cuts to higher education, charging that officials at Penn State University hiked tuition even as they accepted millions of dollars in state subsidies.

Read more: Allentown Morning Call

3/17/11: Poll: Two-thirds of Pennsylvania adults oppose budget cuts to education

Seventy-eight percent of Pennsylvanians oppose cutting funding to local school districts and 67 percent dislike the idea of slashing funding in half for the state's public universities, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll out today. The poll found nearly 40 percent of residents want to cut state programs and services to balance the state budget, but they strongly oppose the cuts Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed to education.

Read more: Harrisburg Patriot-News

3/17/11: Teachers unions respond to Corbett's freeze request

Will public school teachers agree to the pay freeze requested by Gov. Tom Corbett? Pennsylvania State Education Association president James Testerman weighed in Wednesday with a letter to the locals of the state's largest teachers union. "I encouraged them to enter into discussion with their school boards about a pay freeze or other cost-saving measures to maintain their class sizes and academic programs," he said in a news release. But Ted Kirsch, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Pennsylvania, said, "Why is it they're (Corbett administration) just asking teachers to make sacrifices when we have a source of potential income (Marcellus Shale) that's been totally ignored? ...

Read morePittsburgh Post-Gazette

3/16/11: State budget cuts to students in poor districts could be ten times higher than those in wealthier districts

Proposed state budget cuts to education would have the greatest impact on the state’s poorest schools districts, according to an analysis by the Education Law Center, an advocacy group for public education. In some cases, cuts per student at urban schools would be ten times higher than their wealthier neighbors. 

Read more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

3/16/11: Corbett aide: Reroute higher ed money to students

Funneling grants to students, rather than tax dollars to universities, may be a better way to advance higher education, but the government cannot keep subsidizing state-supported universities at current levels, Gov. Tom Corbett's top budget adviser told state senators Wednesday. Charles Zogby said in an appearance before the state Senate Appropriations Committee that the Republican governor's proposed deep cuts to four universities _ Pitt, Temple, Penn State and Lincoln _ is not the beginning of the end of state support for the schools.

Read more:  Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

3/16/11: State-supported universities to find out how much alma matters

Pennsylvania's public universities might benefit from school ties in the Legislature as they combat Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 50 percent cut in state funding. Almost 39 percent of the 253-member General Assembly attended or received degrees from state-related or state-owned universities, according to information compiled from the Legislature's website.

Read more: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

3/15/11: Corbett wants to grade schools, pay teachers on merit basis

When Gov. Tom Corbett released his budget proposal, no one was surprised that it rolled back government spending. And with education making up a third of the state budget, it made sense that public schools and colleges would take a hit. But the scale of the cuts to education — more than $1.2 billion — shocked many.

Read more: Pittsburgh Times-Review

3/14/11: Revenue Secretary: Spending Is The State's Problem, Not Revenue

Acting Revenue Secretary Daniel Meuser led off House Appropriations Committee budget hearings today saying revenue was not the issue because the state is collecting some of the highest levels of revenue it has ever collected. The problem, he said, is the level of state spending are not sustainable

Read more:

3/14/11: Health-care advocates see future pain in Corbett budget

If education is facing a Category 5 hurricane from Harrisburg, then public health and human services may be experiencing the calm before the gathering storms. Unlike governors of both parties in some other states, Gov. Corbett has not proposed killing any major medical-assistance programs or cutting eligibility. Spending in his budget plan is up slightly in several areas, leaving advocates for the elderly, poor, and disabled pleasantly surprised. That feeling may be fleeting.

Read more:  Philadelphia Inquirer

3/13/11: Pennsylvania's budget battle may just be beginning

As the dust settles from the release of Gov. Corbett's deep-cutting budget, this much is apparent: The Republican chief executive may have the House and Senate in his camp, but not necessarily in his corner. Corbett's $27.3 billion spending plan was warmly received by conservatives as fiscally responsible. And Republican legislative leaders maintain that the budget will be completed and signed by the June 30 deadline for the first time in eight years. But as friends and foes begin to study the fine print in Corbett's 1,184-page plan, Pennsylvanians can count on a lively season of hearings and harangues in the Capitol before that deadline arrives.

Read more: Philadelphia Inquirer

3/13/11: Corbett's budget cuts almost everything but prisons

While teachers and education administrators recoil in shock over Gov. Corbett's proposal to slash funding, a $1.65 billion cut representing more than a third of all reductions, life at the Department of Corrections is sort of swell. Community and economic development? Whacked. Higher education? Halved. Correctional institutions? Up 11 percent, to almost $1.9 billion. "We need to think smarter about how and when and how long to jail people," Corbett said in his budget address Tuesday. "We need to be tough on crime, but we also need to consider the fiscal implications of our prison system."

Read more: Philadelphia Inquirer

3/11/11: Republican Legislators Voice Support fot Corbett Budget

Governor Tom Corbett’s budget plan for the 2011-2012 year is creating a stir. The $27.3 billion plan certainly stays in line with GOP-encouraged fiscal policy such as avoiding tax increases and instead cutting spending, and PA Republicans have been vocal in their support.

Read more: Politics PA

3/10/11: Group: Proposed Pa. higher ed cuts steepest in US

Leaders of 18 state-supported colleges and universities are eyeing potential tuition hikes, layoffs and service cutbacks while rallying opposition against Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to slash their funding more than 50 percent -- considered the largest such proposed cut in higher education in the country this year.

Read more: Associated Press

3/10/11: Gov. Tom Corbett's budget would direct more financial authority to schools, voters

Stressing that education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession, Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday unveiled a public education spending plan that calls for deep cuts and would direct increased financial authority to schools and voters. The plan marks the first time in 20 years that basic-education funding would be cut in Pennsylvania. It would roll back spending on basic education to 2008-09 levels. 

Read more: Harrisburg Patriot-News

3/10/11: Penn State University campus closings possible

Penn State University could consider closing some of its 24 campuses, among other cost-cutting measures, if the Legislature adopts Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget, university President Graham Spanier said Wednesday.

Read more:  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

3/9/11: Corbett's state budget plan cuts $866 million: Governor holds line on taxes; proposes huge decreases for education

Gov. Tom Corbett's announcement of his $27.3 billion spending plan sparked heated reactions from Democratic lawmakers, who vowed to fight to restore millions in state education funding, while Republicans said it was a "blueprint" for the direction they'd like to go.

Read more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

3/9/11: Corbett’s budget: No tax hike, lots of spending cuts

Gov. Corbett kept his word, at a cost. In unveiling his first budget Tuesday, Corbett stuck by his campaign pledge to not raise a single tax. At the same time, he called for layoffs, wages freezes, and some of the deepest cuts in recent history for public schools and colleges.

Read more: Philadelphia Inquirer

3/9/11: Analysis: Gov. Tom Corbett's bold budget plan keeps vow on taxes, but still causes pain

Pennsylvania is on its way to spending more money to put people in prison than in college. The state’s prison system would get a slight increase in spending, even as aid to public universities would be slashed. Public schools would lose basic education money for the first time in two decades. This is Pennsylvania in 2011 as Gov. Tom Corbett proposes to deal with a $4 billion deficit. 

Read more: Harrisburg Patriot-News

3/8/11: Pennsylvania governor promises 'day of reckoning'

Amid all the buzz that the new class of Republican governors is causing, however, one big-state chief executive in their ranks has remained conspicuously silent: Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, who cruised to victory in November on a pledge — similar to those made by his counterparts in Florida, Maine, Ohio and Wisconsin — to sharply reduce the size of government. Since taking office in January, Corbett has shied away from the media spotlight while keeping the details of his proposed state budget tightly under wraps.

Read more: Stateline

3/8/11: Higher education funds may be cut under Corbett's budget

Gov. Tom Corbett today will release a budget that is expected to propose 50 percent cuts in higher education. His proposed 2011-12 budget would cut in half state funding for the State System of Higher Education and for state-related universities including Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, Republican and Democratic legislative sources said last night.

Read more: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

3/7/11: Teacher layoffs probable; new way proposed. Budget portends teacher layoffs

For decades, no matter how tight the state budget, school districts could count on one thing: They would receive at least as much money from the state as they had the year before. That pattern is expected to come to an abrupt halt when Gov. Tom Corbett presents his budget proposal Tuesday.

Read more: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

3/6/11:  Massive cuts expected in Corbett's first budget

Come Tuesday morning, bad news will abound in the Capitol - and it will be in the billions. That is when Gov. Corbett is to unveil, at last, the closely guarded details of his first state budget to the legislature and the people of Pennsylvania

Read more: Philadelphia Inquirer

3/6/11: Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal expected to have painful cuts

Little has been revealed about Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2011-12 spending plan, which will be unveiled on Tuesday, but this much is known:

  • It will uphold his pledge not to raise taxes or fees.
  • It will be a budget that calls for spending less next year, with cuts at every agency.

Read more: Patriot-News