HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Gov. Tom Corbett presented his first budget Tuesday morning since taking office.
With a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, he is proposing some very deep spending cuts.
Gov. Corbett was faced with the loss of over $2.7 billion in federal stimulus and economic recovery money.
There was also a shortage because of too many Pennsylvanians being out of work, not paying taxes and collecting benefits.
Gov. Corbett recommended a budget of $27.3 billion, which is three percent less than last year.
The proposed cuts to education include a 10 percent cut in basic education (K-12), which is a loss of $550 million across the state.
Gov. Corbett proposed a cut of 50 percent in state aid to the 14 state owned schools, which totals $625 million.
In addition, Gov. Corbett called for an end to state grants for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.
He also said he would reduce state jobs by 1,500 positions, which would bring the total number of state jobs to just under 80,000.
Gov. Corbett said education can no longer be exempt from budget cuts and he called on teachers and administrators to take a one-year pay freeze.
“Education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession. Our public schools do important work and part of that work must include setting an example,” Gov. Corbett said.
“I’m calling on the employees of our public schools, administrators, teachers, support workers, everyone to hold the line. If it means a pay freeze, trust me you’ll have plenty of company out there to keep them warm.”
Rose and Paul with the KDKA Afternoon News on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA spoke with John Tarka from the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers about the proposed education cuts.
He says they will not support a wage freeze.
“We have a collective bargaining agreement in place and our people work hard for the money as many others do and we want that contract to be adhered to,” Tarka said.
He says the proposed school voucher program would hurt more children than it would help.
“When you take away funding from public schools and provide taxpayer dollars for tuition to private and parochial schools, which will still very much continue to have the ability to pick which students they want to choose, they’re going to leave children behind,” Tarka added.
Ted Kirsch, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers, also had harsh words for Corbett’s proposed cuts in a statement.
“Any budget is a statement of priorities—Gov. Corbett’s budget is a portrait of a bleak future for Pennsylvania. It is a picture in which our children are short-changed.”