$128.3 billion budget plan from Pa. House GOP skimps on transportation, pension changes

    Pennsylvania House Republicans have unveiled their own budget proposal.

    The $28.3 billion spending plan comes in at about $110 million below the governor’s budget.

    It also doesn’t account for any of the big-ticket items on Gov. Tom Corbett’s agenda — transportation funding, liquor privatization, or a revamp of the state pension systems.

    House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph says it represents a $578 million increase over the current fiscal year, a roughly 2 percent bump.

    “By no means am I presenting this budget to you today as if this is a final budget,” said Adolph, R-Delaware. “But because of the facts that we have today, we have identified the priorities that we would like to see in the final budget.”

    The absence of any pension overhaul could imperil the governor’s calculations, which count on pension reforms to save the commonwealth $175 million next year. House Republicans said they were able to fashion a spending plan without that assumed savings.

    But House Speaker Sam Smith says the proposal isn’t a signal pension overhaul is dead.

    “This is the cards we have to deal with so we’re playing this hand,” said Smith, R-Jefferson. “And, certainly, if an agreement is struck between pension reforms, they can be enacted and literally could have zero impact on this current budget. “

    The spending plan increases funding for basic education by $10 million over what the governor’s office proposed. Higher education would remain flat-funded.

    The Democratic House Minority Leader says the plan is an improvement over what the governor has offered. But Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, still takes issue with the continuance of past years’ cuts to human services funding and special education.

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