Senate Approves 2015-16 Spending Plan Without Massive Tax Increases

 

HARRISBURG – The State Senate today approved a 2015-16 budget today that includes cost-cutting reform and historic funding for education without the need for the massive tax increases originally proposed by Governor Wolf, according to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34).

The $30.8 billion plan is approximately $1.15 billion less than the Governor’s original budget request.

The plan does not include the governor’s proposed massive tax increases. The bulk of funding increases in the budget are dedicated to education. The plan increases Basic Education funding by $350 million, early childhood education by $60 million, Special Education by $50 million and higher education by $82 million.

The budget package includes landmark reform of public pensions – the number-one cause of property tax increases. The reform requires new state workers and new school employees to enroll in a combination of a traditional pension and a 401(k)-type benefit as used in the private sector.

As part of the budget package, the Senate also will take the first step in getting the Commonwealth out of the liquor business, providing for the private sale of wine at restaurants and grocery stores, as well as many other changes that will result in increased customer convenience.

“Senate Republicans have worked for the past 10 months to develop a fiscally responsible budget that avoids the massive tax increases that were the lynchpin of Governor Wolf’s original budget proposal” Corman said. “While the agreement is not perfect, it represents a plausible solution to a crisis that has threatened core services of government.  These landmark achievements come with a price, but the cost is significantly less than the governor’s original request in March.”

Other highlights of the plan include:

  • $1.5 million in new funding for a new pilot program to address the heroin epidemic,
  • an additional $2.8 million to combat the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza,
  • $3.4 million in new funding for the State Food Purchase Program,
  • $10 million to increase home- and community-based services for 1,075 individuals with intellectual disabilities, and
  • new funding for remediating abandoned coal mining sites, hospital assessments, EMS providers and attendant care programs.

The budget was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Contact:  Jennifer Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377