On March 8, 2011, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett presented a 2011-12 state budget proposal that is balanced and, as promised, addresses the state’s $4 billion deficit without raising taxes or fees. The $27.3 billion spending plan proposes reductions in the state workforce of 1550, and significant reductions in state funding for basic and higher education. The budget includes no pay increase for state workers for the coming fiscal year and seeks salary and benefit concessions. Corbett is also calling for school districts to freeze pay for all employees even if contracts must be opened. The Corbett Administration created a budget dashboard where taxpayers can view detailed revenue and expenditure information, and this summary includes highlights of the budget proposal as well as the projected impact on the southeast region.
Several key elements of Governor Corbett’s first budget address and spending plan relate directly to the public policy goals of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce:
- To create a more competitive business climate and produce jobs, Corbett’s proposed budget continues the phaseout of the onerous Capitol Stock and Franchise Tax. In the budget address, the governor also encouraged the General Assembly to re-enact the Fair Share Act, a reform measure to improve the state’s legal environment that will help to attract and retain employers.
- Through efforts to reduce the size and cost of government, the Corbett Administration plans to retain core services to care for the needy and eligible poor.
- To improve student outcomes, Corbett intends to give school districts the tools, flexibility and mandate relief to redirect resources. Corbett also took the opportunity of the budget address to ask lawmakers to support education reform and give families and students a school choice.
Legislative hearings on Governor Corbett’s 1200-page budget proposal begin immediately and lawmakers will work toward passage of a final spending and tax plan before the mandatory deadline of June 30. The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce will continue to communicate and collaborate with our state decision-makers and other stakeholders to advance these and other priorities of our region’s business community including efforts to promote adequate funding of essential safety net services and continued state investment in “eds and meds” or hospitals and universities; growth sectors of the regional economy that drive employment, purchase local services, develop human capital and contribute to our communities.