The GOP-dominated PA state house approved their new budget last night, and thanks to a lot of tricky last-minute amendments and no public input, it looks like a right wing wish list — with Gov. Tom “I’m Owned by The Gas Industry” Corbett as Santa Claus. About the only bright spot in this mess is that a last-minute push for school vouchers failed — but Corbett says he’ll bring it back in the next session. The other highlight is that the budget displaces many, many costs to the local municipalities under the guise of “preventing” tax increases:
Corbett got most of what he wanted – deep spending cuts, no new taxes on natural gas or anything else – but only after his administration pushed through a last-minute Senate measure to shift control of billions in welfare funding from the legislature to his administration.
His welfare secretary said budget needs necessitated the change. “We have a savings target to meet, and we can’t wait months and months to do it,” Gary Alexander told The Inquirer Wednesday night.
But the measure set off alarms among advocates for the poor, who portrayed it as a power grab by the executive branch that would shred the safety net for hundreds of thousands of people – most of them women and children – who depend on government assistance.
Richard Weishaupt, a lawyer with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said past administrations had been given temporary authority over a narrow range of welfare services, but nothing so sweeping as what the Corbett administration is seeking.
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