In a much-anticipated address before a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate yesterday, Governor Tom Corbett outlined his budget plans for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The proposed $27.1 billion budget closes an expected $700 million shortfall, includes no new tax increases, but does involve major cuts in funding for the state’s higher education system ranging from 20-30 percent. The Commonwealth’s public schools would see a slight increase in support in the face of the $860 million in cuts they saw last year. The governor also proposed reducing the Department of Welfare’s $10.5 billion budget through the implementation of hundreds of millions of dollars in cost-saving measures to improve efficiency and increase accountability. The budget address came just minutes after the Senate approved a fee on Marcellus Shale drilling, 60 percent of which would be distributed to local governments impacted by drilling and the remaining 40 percent to go to statewide environmental projects. We get reaction to Governor Tom Corbett’s second annual budget address from NATHAN BENEFIELD, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, and SHARON WARD, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.