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Brewster: Gov’s Budget Falls Short

Harrisburg – February 4, 2014 – State Sen. Jim Brewster said today that Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed $29.4 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2014-15 falls short of the mark on education, jobs, human services funding and health care.

“I am very disappointed that the governor did not include a sustainable and responsible funding plan for schools so we can address the huge disparity that we now face as a result of his $1 billion in cuts,” Brewster (D-McKeesport) said. “The governor also failed to include a real investment plan for job creation or human services that would help reverse the negative spiral that Pennsylvania is now experiencing.”

Brewster said Corbett’s budget includes a new $241 million Ready to Learn Block Grant, which is an increase over the current $100 million, and he called for modest increases in special education, pre-kindergarten and hybrid learning.

According to the Mon Valley lawmaker, the proposed funding increase for education only marginally replaces the dollars that were slashed.

“I am very concerned that part of the plan for distributing the new education dollars is through a new funding formula may not be balanced and will actually escalate the funding disparity and plight of economically-troubled schools,” Brewster said. “I am for real investments and real dollars and finding the means to ensure that schools are adequately funded over the long haul.”

Brewster said that he was anxious to learn more about the formula but he was especially concerned that it may actually result in local tax increases.

The plan also includes a request to lower the pension collars from 4.5 percent to 2.25 percent in order to save state $170 million and local schools $130 million.

“The failure of the governor to recognize that we need to focus energy on job creation is disturbing,” Brewster said. “Pennsylvania has gone from 8th in job creation to 48th under this governor.”

Brewster said the proposed spending plan uses short-term funding and one-time revenues to balance the books. He said Senate Democrats recently unveiled a $1.1 billion budget savings and revenue plan that would provide significant resources to invest in education, jobs, health care and human services over the long-term.

As the former mayor of McKeesport, Brewster said he also wished Corbett would have focused more of his budget on local government by increasing local development options.

“The governor didn’t focus on issues impacting economically hard-hit small towns and cities in Pennsylvania,” Brewster said. “I am frustrated that he failed to fully outline programs and policies that would help these communities grow and prosper.”

The spending plan will be examined in detail in a series of budget hearing over the next several weeks.

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