Pa. Dems rebuff Corbett budget plan, calling it full of ‘gimmicks’

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s $29.4 billion Pennsylvania budget plan is being criticized by Democrats as too little, too late.

    The governor says his plan to boost state spending by more than 3 percent signals a change for the better in Pennsylvania’s fiscal situation.

    But Democrats see a cynical election-year ploy, dependent on revenue from one-time sources or incomplete plans.

    “At first glance, this appears to be a deathbed conversion, funded largely by various budgetary gimmicks,” said Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin. “But even as deathbed versions go, it doesn’t seem to go all the way.”

    Corbett’s proposal counts on money that would come from sources that include expanding natural gas drilling on state parks and forest lands and making changes to Medicaid that have not yet gotten federal approval.

    The plan, which relies on cutting what the state must pay into its underfunded public pension systems, also calls for shifting special funds that are outside the main state budget into anemic programs.

    But that doesn’t suggest Corbett’s plan is fundamentally flawed, said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.

    “Essentially the governor’s speech was a speech about spending priorities. How we support those priorities will be in the details,” said Pileggi. “He didn’t address those in the speech today at any length but they’re very important to us because we want obviously a sustainable plan.”

    The governor’s assumption of revenue growth next fiscal year is “optimistic” and worth closer examination, said Pileggi, R-Delaware.

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