State Senate Passes 2012-13 Budget

The final version was $500 million higher than Gov. Corbett's proposed budget.

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a nearly $27.66 billion state spending plan by a 32-17 vote late Friday, the Harrisburg Patriot-News is reporting.

The budget is $500 million higher than Gov. Tom Corbett's initial proposal, according to the Post-Gazette. Other parts of budget package will still need to be acted on by the state House and Senate.

The budget still requires action by Gov. Tom Corbett for final approval.

The plan requires no increase in taxes or new taxes. It maintains funding at current year levels for public universities and most school districts, but some fiscally struggling districts received a little extra money, the Patriot-News reported. It cuts funding for human services by $84 million and eliminates the Department of Public Welfare's cash assistance program, starting Aug. 1.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, said the budget is based on Senate Republicans' belief that controlling government spending and rejecting tax hikes is crucial to moving Pennsylvania toward economic recovery. 

"In these fiscally challenging times you have to make tough choices, but we also recognize that providing a quality education to kids of all ages is one of our most important responsibilities," Corman said.  "This budget includes funding to help counties and local agencies provide essential social and health services and programs for senior citizens and those with physical and mental disabilities."

While acknowledging what he calls "hurtful cuts to vulnerable Pennsylvanians," the state’s new budget contains important provisions intended to address the root of the state’s fiscal woes, said , D-Canonsburg.

“The bottom line is jobs and we have taken aggressive steps to improve the economy and employment picture,” Solobay said. “Economic growth and the jobs that come with it should make future budgets easier on everyone.”

The budget includes an aggressive plan to create a historic economic development project in Beaver County and tax incentives for a wide array of employers to create jobs.

Along with the tax credits required to close the deal for the construction of the $3 billion ethane “cracker” plant, the budget contains an expansion of the film tax credit to include its use in sound studios, and a more than doubling in the credit for hiring unemployed workers.

Lawmakers also adopted a “single-sales factor” for apportioning corporate net income taxes, finishing the shift from payroll and assets to sales when calculating business taxes. The change encourages employers to keep their manufacturing as well as their retail facilities in the state.

Other changes to the tax code allow the transfer of family farms to extended family without applying the inheritance tax, and provide credits to businesses that open up in renovated and preserved historic buildings.

What do you think of the budget? Tell us in the comments section and take our poll.

cc July 05, 2012 at 03:48 AM
No the better school districts around teach more than standardized test. Unfortunately our school district doesn't even get that right.
cc July 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Since people don't go and finish reading the article that has a hyperlink attached to it, I will put the full article up. With teacher layoffs and staff shortages nationwide, some teachers are being asked to teach subjects they are not certified to teach. Roughly 30 percent of chemistry and physics teachers in public high schools did not major in these fields and haven't earned a certificate to teach those subjects, according to a new survey released Monday by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Half of earth science teachers are similarly unqualified. Tom Luce, CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and a former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, says that, oftentimes, a certificate to teach science isn't enough. (Part 1)
cc July 05, 2012 at 08:39 PM
(Part 2) According to the NCES study, which surveyed high school teachers during the 2007-2008 school year, fewer than half of chemistry and physics teachers majored in those subjects, and a quarter of math teachers don't hold math degrees. The problem extends to history, where less than two thirds of teachers hold a history degree. Conversely, 82 percent of English teachers, 90 percent of art teachers, and 95 percent of music teachers hold a bachelor's degree or higher in their field. Luce says the problem is most prevalent in middle school, where more than two thirds of math teachers aren't qualified to teach the subject, a 2007 report by the National Academies shows. Only 1 in 10 middle school physical science teachers have a degree or certification in the subject, according to the same report. "That's when you lose a kid's interest," he says. "They don't even want to try in high school because they think, 'I didn't like this in middle school.'" NMSI's UTeach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher training program has been heralded by President Obama. The program, operated in 22 universities, allows undergraduate students to earn a bachelor of science in math or science while earning a teaching certificate. A similar program by The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship foundation will train 450 STEM teachers in three states.
cc July 05, 2012 at 08:40 PM
(Part 3) But when districts need to fill teaching vacancies, they are often forced to take the best available option—which means a math teacher might be asked to teach physics, or a biology teacher might teach chemistry. Luce doesn't blame the teachers. "Their principal comes to them and says 'Guess what, you're going to teach algebra next year.' Well, I'll put it very simply," he says. "You can't teach what you don't know." Linda Rosen, chief executive officer of Change the Equation, a STEM education advocacy group and former math teacher, agrees that districts are sometimes forced to choose from a small pool. "If a state or district is really down to the wire and school is fast approaching, they need an adult in that classroom. They're not just going to choose a warm body off the street, but they may give out emergency certification at that point," she says.
cc July 05, 2012 at 08:41 PM
(Part 4) Some districts are implementing mentoring and training programs led by highly trained teachers, and may pay for teachers to take classes in the subject they will be teaching. But in many poor school districts, both urban and rural, schools are facing teacher shortages. "Teaching in high-poverty, high-needs schools is not necessarily an appealing option," Rosen says. Even though many teachers may find themselves teaching outside their specialty, that doesn't necessarily mean they are bad teachers, she says, noting, "There are a lot of dedicated people who are trying their best."


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