Pa. lawmakers anxious over school district numbers in budget plan

    Gov. Tom Corbett is scheduled to outline his budget proposal Tuesday before a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate.  Lawmakers are eager to take a look at the spending plan.

    Think of it as the opening salvo of budget negotiations.

    The first time those budget packets go out, pages start flipping as House and Senate members look for their school districts.

    “If that’s not the first thing they do, it’s the second thing they do,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia.

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    This year, the question he and his fellow lawmakers are asking isn’t if the money’s been cut, but by how much.

    “Personally, I don’t think we can go back into the schools,” said Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Armstrong. “I think last year was enough.  So we have to look at different places to cut.”

    Pyle says he’s looking toward the Department of Public Welfare for additional cuts.

    Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi agrees the DPW is a likely target.

    “What particular lines are impacted, we’ll have to wait until the governor’s budget address to see, exactly, but it will be a bare-bones type of a budget presentation,” Pileggi said on the eve of the budget presentation. “I don’t expect to see new programs or new spending of any sort.”

    Education advocates have recently rallied in the Capitol for a reprieve from the kind of funding reduction schools saw last year. And labor groups have presented cost-savings proposals they say could stave off millions in cuts.

    But Pileggi warns some so-called savings proposals are just tax increases by another name – something the governor, and the Republicans who control the Legislature, are firmly against.

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