Five Things To Watch In Gov. Tom Corbett’s Budget

Harrisburg Patriot-News

On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Corbett will unveil what should be his most ambitious budget yet.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we know about the governor’s 2013-14 spending plan, how it affects taxpayers, and PennLive’s coverage of Corbett’s state budget proposal.

1.) Moving on roads. Lawmakers and advocates have been urging the governor to get behind a plan to finance road and bridge repairs and mass transit programs. It looks like it’s finally happening, and it may be the most watched item of his budget speech. It’s widely expected that he will lift a cap on taxes assessed on wholesale gasoline sales.

2.) Colleges escape cuts. The governor has pledged not to reduce aid for the state’s public universities. He proposed cuts in each of his first two budget addresses and signed off on flat funding last year. While university presidents won’t have to lobby against steep reductions in aid, students likely can expect higher tuition bills without an influx of additional state aid.

3.) Public schools could get more money. After austere budgets in his first two years, Corbett could be putting more money to schools. He is trying to sell the state Legislature on a plan to sell the state-owned wine and liquor stores, and he is proposing to use money for public school programs. PennLive’s Jan Murphy surveyed several educators last week, and some made a pitch for more money for early childhood education.

4.) Tackling pension costs. The state’s public pension systems are getting more expensive to taxpayers, and Corbett is expected to push a plan to try to control the costs. It’s going to be a tough fight, but the governor’s administration doesn’t have to look hard for motivation. The state projects paying $1.26 billion to the Public School Employees Retirement System next year alone, an increase of more than $400 million.

5.) Medicaid expansion? Public health advocates are waiting to see if Corbett will agree to the expansion of Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor. Refusing to do so means Pennsylvania could miss out on $4 billion in federal aid. Corbett and other Republican governors worry that the federal money won’t cover all of the costs of an expansion of Medicaid.

On Tuesday:
PennLive will be providing full coverage of the governor’s budget and what it means to you. And we want you to tell us what you like and you loathe about the plan.

We’ll be live streaming his address and providing commentary of the governor’s speech. PennLive staff reporters will break down the governor’s plans on specific areas that matter to you, from public schools to state police. Weigh in and tell us what you’d support and what should be cut.

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