As the budget talks heat up, Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate are urging a restoration of funding for what they call essential health care programs.
Senators Jay Costa of Allegheny County, John Blake of Lackawanna County, Larry Farnese and Vince Hughes, both from Philadelphia, joined medical professionals from across Pennsylvania calling for using part of the the expected budget surplus to restore funding to Pennsylvania's medical schools, four regional cancer centers and the Life Science Greenhouse (LSG) program. The surplus was $540 million at the end of May and is expected to hit $600 million by the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The Democrats are suggesting using about 50% of the surplus to restore this funding.
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa says the state can't make reductions now that will cost it in the long run...
"From an economic standpoint, we have to realize that modest investments in our state-related academic medical centers are multiplied several times over when you take into account the private and federal dollars which flow into Pennsylvania as a result of the success of these institutions."
State funding for the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton was completely eliminated in both Governor Corbett’s and the House Republicans’ budget proposals.
However, Monday the state Senate, by a party line vote approved a resolution that prevents the Democrats' ability to suggest amendments to the budget that would authorize the use of excess revenue from this fiscal year to restore the cuts proposed by the Governor and by House Republicans to education, health care and human services for the next fiscal year ..... “Before a budget is returned to the House, we need bi-partisan support to make common-sense restorations to these programs and services that provide long-term benefits and long-term savings for all Pennsylvanians,” said Senator Blake.