Tom Corbett has a problem. Actually, 500 million of them.
And, like it or not, that means every resident of Pennsylvania has a problem as well.
The state is drowning in red ink. Again. The state’s fiscal watchdogs are suggesting that come the end of the fiscal year in June, Gov. Corbett and the Legislature could be staring into the abyss of a $500 million shortfall.
Couple that with the echoes of the oft-repeated mantra from Corbett’s campaign for the governor’s mansion – a vow not to raise taxes – and you have a rather interesting math dilemma.
Actually, what you get is a bare-bones, austere budget like the one Corbett rolled out on Tuesday. The governor is getting pretty good at this; it’s the second straight year he slashed spending to make the numbers add up.
Last year it was basic education in the crosshairs, which led in part to the kind of funding crisis that has taken the Chester Upland to the edge of insolvency, and leaves a trail of broke school districts lined up behind them.
This time around Corbett is actually giving a slight increase in the basic education subsidy with one hand, while taking away $100 million in grants often used for kindergarten and other programs with the other.
But the real pain inflicted in this budget is reserved for higher education.
If you go to college in Pennsylvania, either at Penn State or one of its satellite campuses, the state-affiliated universities such as West Chester and Cheyney; or community college such as DCCC, you’re going to pay more. In some cases a lot more.