Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania state legislature are meeting with Governor Tom Corbett early next week to present a joint spending plan with the intention of passing a budget in mid-June. Procedurally, it falls to the state House to make changes to the Senate's $27.7 billion budget plan, which contains a half-million dollars more than what the governor proposed.
The revised spending plan would restore millions to higher education, certain social services programs, and research funding, as well as the horseracing industry. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said it's possible it could be passed by mid-June. "That is an optimistic time frame but an achievable one, but it will depend on the governor's response to the Senate and House spending bill," Pileggi said.
The Senate's plan was based on better-than-expected tax revenues in March and April, and it features a nearly full restoration of funding for higher education to the 2011-2012 levels. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-McCandless) said his caucus wants to make sure, if state system and state-related universities get the money, they won't turn around and pass tuition increases.
"We're looking at what tuition increases have been over a 10-year period. We're gathering that data and I think that's crucial to any discussion we have with respect to higher ed[ucation] restorations," Turzai said. He added that a final budget should be no bigger than the Senate's $27.7 billion dollars.
Pileggi noted that the fight for state funding is fierce. "There is competition for limited resources and we feel that the allocation that we decided upon and voted upon on a bipartisan basis, I would note, in the Senate, is the right allocation of the limited funds that we have," Pileggi said.