With just two days to go before the budget deadline, the Pennsylvania Senate has passed a $27.15 billion spending plan. The measure now goes back to the House.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman said cuts contained in the bill are true to Governor Corbett’s campaign promises. “He went to all 67 counties over the last couple years campaigning and said, ‘I am not going to raise taxes. I know there's a big deficit, I know there's a structural deficit, I know we're going to have to cut state spending, but I'm not going to raise taxes, I'm going to cut spending to balance the state budget.’” Corman believes it was on the strength of that promise that Corbett was elected.
Democrats are vowing to not go down without a fight. “This budget will pass, and this agenda will move forward, but after tonight, the people of Pennsylvania will have an opportunity to be heard again. And I believe, like many of us, that their voices will be much, much louder than anybody on my side of the aisle,” said Senator Larry Farnese (D- Philadelphia).
Democrats say the budget cuts could be eased if Republicans would dip into the more than $600 million in tax revenue surplus built up over the current fiscal year.
“I will tell you right now that every poll that exists in this commonwealth of Pennsylvania is that that these are the policies that they don’t want. That this budget is a document that they do not want, that they will not support. But unfortunately it will be forced down their throats,” said Senate Appropriations Democratic Chair Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia). Republicans hold a 112-91 seat advantage in the Lower chamber.