House Moving Forward With Fair, Responsible State Budget, Causer Says

Working to pass an on-time, fiscally responsible budget, the state House is preparing to amend Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal by cutting welfare spending and restoring some funding to public schools and higher education institutions, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) said today.


Causer, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Wednesday. The full House could vote on the bill the week of May 23.


“There is no question that we need to bring state spending under control, and we are working to do that. At the same, we need to prioritize our investments to ensure proper funding of core government functions,” Causer said. “I believe that taking some money out of the governor’s welfare proposal and adding some dollars back to education initiatives are major steps in the right direction.”


The budget amendment unveiled Tuesday would increase funding to public schools by more than $200 million over the Corbett proposal. While it does not bring school district funding back to the level it is in the current budget, it would ensure all districts receive the same level of state funding they received in 2008-09, prior to the addition of federal stimulus funds. The plan designates $100 million to continue the Accountability Block Grant program, flexible funds school districts can use on programs identified as being most important to their students, such as all-day kindergarten or pre-kindergarten programs. The State System of Higher Education and state-related institutions such as the University of Pittsburgh would also receive additional funds in the House budget plan.


A substantial portion of the education funding increase comes from a $470 million cut in Corbett’s proposed spending in the Department of Public Welfare. Even the Rendell administration acknowledged a 4 percent error rate in the distribution of welfare benefits. Eliminating those errors will save the taxpayers money while ensuring the welfare safety net is there for the people who truly need it.


Causer said lawmakers are encouraged by the fact that revenues for the fiscal year thus far are approximately $500 million ahead of projections but they are proceeding with caution until the final numbers are available.


“If revenues continue to move in a positive direction, we may be able to make some further restorations to education or other initiatives,” Causer said. “We need to be mindful of meeting today’s needs but also of planning for the future.”


Budget negotiations among the administration, the Senate and the House are ongoing.


State Representative Martin Causer

67th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Patricia Hippler