HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania - In his annual budget address, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett outlined a spending plan that focuses on education, transportation, taxes and pension reform.
The proposal increases overall state spending by nearly 3% to 28.4 billion dollars, does not increase the personal income tax or sales tax, but raises 28.4 billion through other taxes, fees and revenue sources.
The budget would increase public education funding to a record 5.5 billion dollars with new funding generated by the privatization of the states liquor stores.
"Selling liquor is not a core function of government, education is," the governor told a joint session of the state legislature.
Regarding privatization, the governor says turning management of the lottery over to a private firm would not jeopardize the state's programs for seniors.
"It will in short keep the promise that we made to older Pennsylvanians the day the lottery sold its first ticket," Corbett said.
To address Pennsylvania's monumental task of raising 3.5 billion dollars to fix the states roads and crumbling bridges, the governor is calling for lifting the cap on the wholesale tax that gas stations pay on gasoline.
"It's time for oil and gas company's to pay their fair share of the infrastructure supporting their industries," the governor said.
Corbett says he doesn't think it's a good idea to expand Pennsylvania's Medicaid program under the federal health care law unless Washington allows more flexibility to manage it.
"Without serious reforms it would be financially unsustainable for the taxpayers and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion," Corbett said.
The governor also said steps must to taken to overhaul the state's avalanche of pension debt for state workers and school employees, calling it the number one thing lawmakers can do.
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