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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
Priorities Include Education, Jobs and Healthcare
HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today presented his 2014-15 budget to the General Assembly, telling lawmakers that the $29.4 billion spending plan continues to drive the values of strategic investment and prudent fiscal management to address the commonwealth's core funding needs.
"This commonwealth is the sixth-largest economy in the United States," Corbett said. "And we'll be running at full strength as long as we concentrate on three priorities:
A great education for every child, a private sector where every business large and small can grow and hire, and a healthcare and human services system where everyone has choices and everyone is covered."
"In government, nothing makes a difference like defining a promise kept. And with your support, we have not raised taxes in three years. In that, and other ways, we are doing things right, the signs of revival are clear to see. Pennsylvanians are finding jobs again in Pennsylvania."
Corbett's proposed budget focuses on three key areas: education, jobs, and health and human services.
The Governor's Ready to Learn education agenda has transformed Pennsylvania's public education system. Through targeted initiatives, Ready to Learn has increased accountability and transparency in our schools, infused stronger educational resources into our classrooms and focused financial resources on supporting students at all levels.
In addition to these reforms, Governor Corbett has made historic investments in public education, eliminating the loss of one-time federal stimulus funding that expired in 2011. Over the past three years, the commonwealth has invested nearly an additional $1.2 billion in education – setting a new all-time high of $10.1 billion in direct state support for public education in Pennsylvania.
"We have a responsibility to give the children of this state a 21st century education, and over the past three years, we have worked every day with thousands of parents, teachers and administrators from across this state to ensure that we drive each and every dollar into an education that meets the needs of the children of Pennsylvania," Corbett said.
"Under my budget for 2014-15, this commonwealth will be investing more in public education than ever before."
This year, the budget marks the next phase of a ready to learn education agenda- a new, strategic investment at all levels of public education that is built upon the solid foundation of increased accountability, improved transparency and greater support for students, educators and schools.
Investments in support of that agenda are:
Other education funding initiatives include:
In addition to investments made in pre-K to 12 public education, this year's budget provides $25 million for a new Ready To Succeed Scholarships program that will make the cost of a college education more affordable for students from middle-income families. The grants will go directly to students based upon merit and financial need.
"We all know post-secondary degrees are costly and sometimes out of reach as students and their families worry about debt. With this budget, we will launch the Ready to Succeed Scholarship program, which will provide an additional $25 million for middle income students who want to earn a two- or four-year degree," Corbett said. "Whether students are looking at trade school or college, a little help at the right time can make a world of difference; and it'll make our state even more attractive to businesses considering whether to move or expand here. They'll want to know if Pennsylvania has prepared our young adults in the trades and disciplines that are always in demand. And our answer will be yes."
The 2014-15 budget also continues previous budget initiatives:
Governor Corbett's JOBS1st PA agenda continues his commitment to creating family-sustaining employment opportunities for Pennsylvanian workers and placing Pennsylvania at the forefront of the manufacturing, energy, life sciences and technology industries. Targeted investments will support JOBS1st PA and strengthen critical job creating programs and partnerships – with businesses small and large – that have a proven track record of results, as well as support collaborations that utilize innovative programs to market Pennsylvania and foster new jobs in growing industries.
"We've come together to make some wise investments, with long-term payoffs in productivity and quality of life. So, let's make a few more. And if we stay focused on that same defining goal – jobs for our people – it will see us through.
"Pennsylvanians are finding jobs again – in Pennsylvania. Today our labor force is 6 million strong and growing. In three years, our commonwealth has added enough jobs to replace nearly all we lost in the downturn," Corbett said.
The JOBS1st PA investments include:
Health and Human Services
In September 2013, Governor Corbett launched his Healthy Pennsylvania plan to increase access to quality, affordable health care for all Pennsylvanians. Healthy PA has three key priorities: improving access; ensuring quality; providing affordability. This budget advances the Healthy PA plan while reaffirming a commitment to preserving the safety net for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, seniors, children and low-income families.
This 2014-15 budget strikes the appropriate balance between the need to transform our health care system into a sustainable system, focused on quality outcomes and increases access to care and the need to improve the delivery and accessibility of human services.
It provides resources to serve more individuals who have been waiting to access needed services, and will accelerate the modernization of the delivery of health care throughout the state – improving access to quality, affordable health care.
Additionally, this budget will continue efforts to ensure that Pennsylvanians in need of long-term care services and supports are served in the appropriate setting and have the ability to stay at home or in the community.
"Now and then, we make decisions in this building that carry consequences far beyond the years we spend here," Corbett said. "That's when we need to do our clearest thinking. Health care in Pennsylvania is that kind of issue."
"When we are done, Healthy Pennsylvania will put high-quality, private-sector health insurance within reach of all our citizens, whatever their means. This is the solution that we have chosen for ourselves."
To further support the Governor's Healthy PA and enhanced human services agenda, the 2014-15 budget outlines the following initiatives:
"The smartest investments we make are the ones we make in people," Corbett said. "We're committed to helping those who need it most. My budget is a reflection of this commitment. It will help secure a brighter future for our seniors, our neighbors with disabilities, and our victims of violent crime."
Specific human services investments include:
In addition to unveiling his Executive Budget, the governor renewed his charge to the legislature to enact two key pieces of pending legislation: pension reform and liquor privatization. Over the past several months legislative leaders and members have worked in a bipartisan fashion to further both efforts.
Corbett stressed the need for reform efforts that address significant year-over-year pension obligations for both the state and local school districts, reduce the risk to taxpayers of pension cost spikes, and enable local school districts to reinvest pension savings into classrooms.
"Billions in new debt to our state is the cost of doing nothing. The only question is whether we will do it now, when it's still a manageable problem, or let others do it later, when it's an all-out crisis," Corbett said.
Corbett also expressed his desire to finalize liquor privatization efforts with the legislature during the spring session. Since last year, the governor and legislative leaders have been working together to bring consumer choice and convenience to the sale of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania.
"When it comes to our state and our ability to meet great challenges, I have great confidence in the people of Pennsylvania. We've seen our way through some fairly tough times," Corbett said. "And with some notable successes in this building lately, we have shown what we are capable of doing. These are the kind of successes that usually last the longest in government – work done with common purpose by both parties, in the public's interest."
"Things are coming together. All around us are the hopeful signs of a stronger Pennsylvania. We have work to do, and commitments to honor. And now we have a way forward, with the budget I submit today – a budget reflecting real numbers, responsible choices, and unlimited confidence in what our people can accomplish."
For more information on the Governor's 2014-15 Executive Budget, visit www.pa.gov.
Media contact: Jay Pagni, 717-783-1116
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