HARRISBURG — Midnight marked the arrival of Pennsylvania state government's new fiscal year, which comes with an election-year budget bill approved by the Legislature, but not Gov. Tom Corbett's signature.
The Republican, who used to boast about his perfect record in signing budgets on time, said early Tuesday morning as he left the Capitol that he wouldn't immediately sign the $29.1 billion spending plan that lawmakers sent him.
Leaders of the House and Senate Republican majorities couldn't drum up enough support for the pension overhaul Corbett wanted in conjunction with the budget. The plan would reduce future state and school employees' pensions to save more than $10 billion over 30 years.
What happens next is unclear.
Corbett says he hadn't agreed to every detail in the main budget bill before it passed, so he wants to review it first.
Earlier on cumberlink.com
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett says he won't sign a $29.1 billion spending plan for Pennsylvania state government before the fiscal year ends at midnight, saying he'll continue to seek passage of a meaningful bill to reduce future public pension costs.
Corbett's move Monday night comes after leaders of the House and Senate Republican majorities couldn't drum up enough support to pass pension legislation backed by Corbett.
That legislation would reduce future public employee pension benefits to bring a savings of more than $10 billion over 30 years.
But Democrats were united in opposition, and some Republicans opposed it.
Instead, the Senate passed a bill would shift state lawmakers, judges, the governor and four other elected executive branch officials into a 401(k)-style system. It's expected to save $690 million over 38 years.
Earlier on cumberlink.com
HARRISBURG - Highlights of the Republican-crafted spending plan for the 2014-15 year that starts Tuesday. Some major spending items, such as aid to hospitals for treating the poor and uninsured, remained unclear because a major companion budget bill had not been unveiled Monday. Comparisons are to the budget approved for the 2013-14 fiscal year:
THE BIG PICTURE
- Increases spending by $723 million, or 2.5 percent, to $29.1 billion over the current year's approved budget. Counting another $220 million that it will added to the books of the 2013-14 fiscal year that ends Monday, the entire package is a $943 million increase, or about 3.3 percent.
- Generates $29.6 billion through taxes, fees and other revenue sources, an increase of $1 billion, or 3.5 percent.
- Contains no new taxes.
- Continues to phase out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, which was targeted for elimination this year but is now slated to expire in 2016.
- Reduces the time period in which unclaimed property must be held by outside institutions from five years to three, generating $150 million in one-time revenue.
- Calls for the extraction of natural gas from beneath state-owned parks and forests through drilling on private, adjacent lands that does not require any surface impact on public lands, generating $95 million in immediate revenue and additional future royalties.
- Relies on more than $700 million from off-budget lottery sales, legal settlement money paid by tobacco companies and revenue from oil and gas drilling on state lands.
- Transfers $100 million from the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund and $100 million from the Small Business First Fund.
- Postpones the payment of nearly $400 million to providers of medical care and mental health services under Medicaid.
- No increase in aid to public schools for basic instructional and operational costs.
- Provides $100 million in new money for Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed new "Ready to Learn" block grant program that will provide a menu of options that guide school districts on how they can use the money.
- Increases special education funding by $20 million.
- Increases funding for school construction by $10 million.
- Increases spending on early-childhood education by $10 million, providing access to pre-school programs for nearly 1,700 additional children.
- Accounts for an anticipated $610 million increase in the state's share of pension costs for state and school employees.
- Transfers $225 million in private equity investments and cash reserves from the Tobacco Settlement Fund and Health Venture Investment account to the school employees' pension fund to help reduce the state's pension obligations.
HEALTH CARE/SOCIAL SERVICES
- Increases aid for county welfare assistance offices by $40 million to $499 million.
- Projects $125 million in first-year savings from changes to the state's Medicaid program that still require federal approval.
- Increases funding by 50 percent for the Community-Based Health Care Program, providing $2 million for four new facilities.
- Increases funding for the Department of Public Welfare operations, county assistance offices, information systems by $69 million to $499 million.
- Increases funding for mental health services by $41 million to $732 million.
- Increases funding for county child welfare services by $28 million to $1.08 billion.
- Increases funding for services for Medicaid-eligible people with intellectual disabilities by $40 million to nearly $1.07 billion.
LAW AND ORDER
- Increases funding for Pennsylvania State Police operations and cadet classes by nearly $15 million to $205 million.
- Increases funding for the Department of Corrections by $97 million to $2.06 billion.
Sources: Corbett administration, Senate Republicans, 2014-15 state budget documents.