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Lawmakers split on Governor's proposed budget

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 04 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 05 2013 06:16:42 PM CST

Corbett delivers annual budget address

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has laid out major reform initiatives in his new budget proposal. Moments after it was delivered, the budget drew both praise and skepticism from state lawmakers.

It's the third budget of his administration, and the $28.4 billion plan increases overall spending by nearly three percent.

Corbett's budget proposal does not raise taxes on families, and personal income tax and sales tax will remain the same.

"I'm pleased to say, I believe Pennsylvania's best days are ahead," said Corbett.

Corbett will have to negotiate with the legislature to adopt long-term changes to pension reform. Corbett's plan requires new employees to enter into a 401-K style retirement plan.

"That is the 800 pound gorilla, it can't be ignored. The private sector has done it, we need to do the same here in PA," said Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill and Berks Counties.

Corbett is looking to pump $90 million dollars more into basic education funding to support local school districts. He also wants to end an 80-year state monopoly by selling the state's wine and liquor stores over the next four years.

"The trade off is you want more access, but with more access comes higher prices," said Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton/Monroe Counties.

Corbett's budget proposes uncapping the Oil Franchise Tax over the next five years generating $5.4 billion. It's money the governor said will be used to fix things like aging roads and bridges.

Some lawmakers said they like Corbett's ideas, but they need to look at them with more detail.

"I think the willingness to tackle them and laying out a blueprint for where the legislature needs to go is very helpful to start this budget process in Pennsylvania," said Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Berks/Lehigh Counties.

According to some Democrats, Corbett's budget plan is ambitious, and based on a lot of assumptions.

"I don't think the people in Pennsylvania, the taxpayers, want to see some of these changes he's promoting," said Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks County.

Corbett's budget also proposed 400 layoffs, and eliminated 500 other positions.

State lawmakers have until June 30th to pass a balanced budget.