Governor Corbett is traveling the state discussing his 2012-13 budget proposals with Pennsylvanians, visiting businesses whose success employs their neighbors and helps to grow economic opportunities in their communities. As with any public debate, opponents of the proposed budget have made several claims that are inaccurate. The governor reviewed these issues and wishes to set the record straight with responses to critics in five areas.
Pennsylvania spends more money building prisons than building schools.
The proposed budget, more than $10.7 billion, is dedicated to education in Pennsylvania. For the first time in ten years, the proposed budget contains no increases for the Department of Corrections. The budget does include approximately $600 million in prison construction, $400 million of which was committed prior to Governor Corbett taking office. This overall amount is small in comparison to the more than $10 billion the governor has committed to investing in education.
The reductions in higher education funding will cause universities to raise tuitions.
Schools themselves have shown this not to be true. From 1999 to 2011, Penn State, Temple, and the University of Pittsburgh received a combined $7.2 billion in state funding. During that same time period, tuition at these institutions rose an average of 130 percent. Funding reductions proposed for the state-related and state-owned schools amount to an approximate 1.5 to 3.8 percent reduction in their overall operating budgets. These small percentages are something that should be overcome through cost containment instead of reflexive tuition increases.
The proposed budget reduces funding for K-12 education and will force school districts to raise property taxes.
In fact, the more than $9.3 billion in state funding the governor has proposed for K-12 education is the highest in the history of Pennsylvania, with every school district in the commonwealth seeing an in crease. Visit investingingpastudents.com to find out how much Governor Corbett is investing in children and if a particular school district has money in its reserve fund it could use to offset its increasing costs.
The elimination of cash assistance will mainly hurt children and victims of domestic abuse.
The primary recipients of cash assistance are single, childless adults and constitute one percent of the overall public assistance population. The elimination of this program allows the administration to save the state-funded medical assistance program, which provides medical services to the same population. Currently, almost 39 cents of every state taxpayer dollar supports our public assistance programs, yet costs of the system continue to escalate faster than our economy and the rate of poverty.
The proposed budget reduces funding for the arts.
Both last year and this year, Governor Corbett protected funding for the arts in Pennsylvania, investing more than $8 million in arts grants throughout the commonwealth.