Five Big Things Your Legislators Didn’t Fix This Weekend
It came down to the wire (of course), but at 10 p.m. last night, Gov. Corbett signed a $28.4 billion state budget for the new fiscal year, an increase of more than 2 percent over last year. Being Tom Corbett, the gov signed the bill without having achieved two of his “Big Three” legislative goals, which he says state lawmakers can tackle in the fall or even at the end of 2014’s legislative session,
So what exactly did happen in Harrisburg this weekend?
Not gonna happen until at least the fall. The $2 billion transportation side of the budget got stuck in the House, so it looks like Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges (already some of the worst in the nation) will continue to deteriorate. Have fun traveling to your summer vacation destination.
The Liquor Control Board
You can go ahead and count on continuing to purchase your hooch from your local State Store. The bid to change our state government’s role as barback stalled out in the Senate, preventing us yet again from being able to run down to Wawa for a six-pack. A defeat, yes, but the thought of the sale of cases and single bottles of beer under the same roof will keep us strong for the fall.
As one of the few standouts from Corbett’s otherwise underwhelming budget, funding for education is a comparatively huge victory. Public schools across the state will see a $129 million funding increase in the next fiscal year, a move that will naturally help the Philadelphia School District. Additionally, Corbett backed a $140 million plan for Philly that aims to stave off the doomsday scenario area administrators have been warning about. However, $140 million is less than half of the city’s $304 million school deficit, so maybe kids can just share books or something.
The overhaul of the state’s public-employee pension system, another big point for Corbett, was pretty much unanimously squashed in both state government chambers. We’re currently looking at a $47 billion shortage in pension funds, so Corbett’s inability to nail down the issue may just lead to credit downgrades and other economic maladies. But, hey, there’s a reason Moody’s rates PA as the eighth-worst state in terms of pension liabilities.
The Senate approved a plan to require the state to apply for the expansion of Medicaid eligibility under new federal law, but there was no word from the House, where Republicans are against the expansion. Corbett, however, has gone on record saying that he won’t approve Medicaid expansion unless the federal government allows PA to change its individual program. So if you’re low-income and sick, suck it up — you are not sick or poor enough to get your legislators’ attention.