Governor gives 2013-2014 budget address

corbettHARRISBURG — Transportation, pension reform, education, jobs, healthcare and agriculture were all topics touched upon during Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett’s 2013-2014 budget address Tuesday.  Here are some of the points:

Governor Tom Corbett says his budget plans to inject nearly $2 billion of additional funding into the state’s transportation system. Calling it the “bloodstream of our economy,” Corbett says he is calling on the legislature to pass a 17% reduction in the flat liquid fuels tax.  In addition, he is recommending a five-year phase out of an artificial cap on the tax paid by oil and gas companies on the wholesale price of gasoline.

The governor unveiled a pension reform plan to address the state’s $41 billion in unfunded liability and the effects that increasing pension contributions have on the state’s budget. He has implemented a three-point reform plan that includes moving new employees to a defined contribution plan, changing the formula for future benefits for current employees’ plans and limiting the amount by which the commonwealth’s employer contributions can be increased.

In education, Corbett says the budget will invest an additional $338 million into education to ensure schools provide student-focused educational programs.  He says there will be a $5.5 billion increase to the Basic Education Funding.  In addition, he also renewed his call to privatize the state’s wine and spirit stores and investing the proceeds into K-12 education.

Corbett says job creation is very important in the state and he is focused on a tax reform proposal that will improve the tax climate by reducing tax burdens that inhibit job creation and economic growth. Doing this would include eliminating the capital stock and foreign franchise tax, beginning to reduce the corporate net income tax, raising the cap on net operating loss deductions, allowing for like-kind exchanges and start-up business deductions, repealing the corporate loans tax and simplifying the tax code and repealing nuisance taxes.

The governor called for increased access to healthcare services for the underinsured and for additional programs that will enhance public health research. The proposed budget allocations $5 million in rural and underserved areas.  In addition, $4 million would help establish the Community-Based Health Care Subsidy program.

Corbett says agriculture is the state’s economic driver and says funding will be maintained for a number of projects across Pennsylvania. That includes the veterinary school and center for infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania and for agricultural research at PennStateUniversity.  In addition, there will be a $2.5 million increase in funding for county fairs, which attract more than six million visitors each year. (Sara Bartlett)

Read the full transcript of the governor’s address here: Text of Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2013-14 Budget Speech