At 11:30 am on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 Governor Corbett stepped to the podium to reveal his Executive Budget to the General Assembly and enforce his concept of building a stronger Pennsylvania. The focus of his address and the $29.4 billion proposed budget highlighted education, jobs and health and human services to the shade of a 3.3 percent increase in spending.
Corbett addressed the need for education funding at all levels by proposing a $10 million increase to Pre-K Counts for our youngest citizens and $341 million slated for the Ready to Learn Block Grant in addition to $10 million for Hybrid Learning which will allow educators to balance traditional learning with web and digitally-based learning tools. Also included was a $20 million increase to special education.
Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq was happy with the proposal put forth by the Governor for education funding, noting the importance of both the block grant and the hybrid learning initiative. Despite Corbett’s efforts to acknowledge the importance of education, Democratic Appropriations Committee Chair Joseph Markosek said, “He really did not do anything to solve the basic education funding formula.”
While Higher Education funding will not see an increase, Corbett said, “We all know post-secondary degrees are costly and sometimes out of reach as students and their families worry about debt. With this budget, we will launch the Ready to Succeed Scholarship program, which will provide an additional $25 million for middle income students who want to earn a two- or four-year degree.”
He hopes that businesses will be more inclined to move production to the Commonwealth with an increased number of graduates from four-year and trade programs.
Furthermore, Corbett will continue to support JOBS1st PA in order to continue bringing jobs to the Commonwealth. In addition to several other initiatives, the Governor proposes a $5 million increase to the Pennsylvania First program which will increase the WEDnetPA Training program by $2 million, allowing for 10,000 additional employees to be trained.
Corbett aims to build on the Healthy Pennsylvania program he introduced in 2013 by improving the affordability and accessibility to healthcare of the state’s citizens. The budget includes $4 million in funding that will provide grants to fund four new healthcare centers and 36 existing centers among other initiatives.
In regards to the Governor’s overall budget address, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Michael Brubaker said, “I think this is the best budget speech this Governor has given in his four years.”
Follow this link for detailed information on Governor Corbett’s budget initiatives: