GOP may restore some Pa. education funds with welfare cuts

    The Pennsylvania House’s top Republican predicts lawmakers will ease Gov. Tom Corbett’s deep cuts to colleges and universities when the chamber passes its own spending plan later this year.

    At a Monday news conference, Majority Leader Mike Turzai said he’s committed to Corbett’s $27.3 billion spending total. But the Republican confirmed what lawmakers from both parties have been saying for weeks: the House will lessen the funding reductions Corbett has proposed for State System and state-related schools.

    “Will it go back to last year’s dollar amount? No it will not,” he said. “It will not. Somewhere between the governor’s budget proposal and last year’s spending. Because everyone recognizes we have tough times, and Gov. Rendell left us in, essentially, a bankrupt situation. And we no longer have stimulus dollars.”

    Corbett’s budget plan slashes $212 million from the State System of Higher Education budget, and halves support for the four state-related universities.

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    Turzai predicted lawmakers will find the extra money by cutting Department of Public Welfare spending. Corbett wants to increase DPW’s budget by $600 million. That’s too much for a department that Turzai and many other Republicans argue misspends money.

    “There’s no doubt that we think there is true waste, fraud and abuse in welfare, and that those dollars have to come down,” he said. “And that we can’t have an increase over last year’s budget in that particular department.” This year’s budget allocates $10.6 billion for the Welfare department.

    House Republicans will introduce a package of bills aimed at curbing perceived Welfare department waste tomorrow.

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