Final Pa. budget includes tax break for Shell ethane cracker

    Governor Corbett has signed a Pennsylvania budget for the coming fiscal year that spends $370 million more than last year.

    The House had to blow through its own rules and shirk its 11 p.m. curfew to get the job done.

    The Senate was still voting on a key budget measure up until 11:46.

    But at about a quarter to midnight Saturday, Corbett sat down and signed a $27.7 billion state budget and related measures.

    “I think, hopefully we’re developing a habit, and I think the Pennsylvania citizens will appreciate that habit of on-time,” said Corbett.

    For Corbett, the crown jewel seemed to be a tax break to seal the deal on an ethane cracker plant to be built by Royal Dutch Shell, in the hopes that the refinery will bring thousands of jobs.

    He touted other measures that made it to the finish line: a proposal to tie non-charter school teacher evaluations to student performance, and an expansion of tax credits for businesses that fund scholarships to private schools.

    But in the hours before the budget deadline, the bottom fell out of a deal on charter school reforms backed by Corbett.

    He says he’ll keep working on it in the fall.

    One item done away with in the budget is cash General Assistance payments to 70,000 very low-income adults.  An 11th-hour adjustment will delay ending the payments until August 1. About half the recipients live in Philadelphia.

    Rep. John Myers (D-Philadelphia) said eliminating the program will hurt his constituents even if it doesn’t hit their wallets directly.

     

    “A lot of men in my district will have no means of support. And in my district, no means of support means take what you need,” said Myers.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.