Pa. Senate Democrats offer alternative budget plan

    Some Pennsylvania lawmakers say they have better budget plans than Gov. Tom Corbett. In Philadelphia Thursday, the Senate Democratic leaders said their plan includes savings, revenues, and efficiencies adding up to $1 billion.  Sen. Vincent Hughes said by being smarter and more efficient, the state can save money. “The Department of Public Welfare is the largest department in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Hughes said. “We can make that program work creatively and thoughtfully …to save significant amounts of dollars–maybe even upward of $500 million.”

    “Changes in the Department of Corrections–merging the Department of Probation and Parole together with the Department of Corrections could probably save us around $75 million,” Hughes continued.

    Hughes and the other lawmakers also said they want to see a tax on natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale. “This is not your mom-and-pop drillers now,” Hughes said.  “This is BP, Exelon, the rest, some of the largest corporations in the world.  You leave them off the hook, without paying their fair share, and at the same time put on the hook kids going to college and make them have to pay 25 percent to 30 percent more in their tuition rates … (it’s) unacceptable.”

    Hughes said he’s worried that the budget is being balanced on the backs of working families and children.

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    Corbett’s spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment, though Corbett has said repeatedly he is against a shale tax.


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