Pennsylvanians Await Governor’s Budget Address

Governor Tom Corbett will unveil his latest budget proposal Tuesday in Harrisburg.

Last year, the Republican who campaigned on tightening belts, so to speak, followed through with funding cuts across the board.

This year, Pennsylvanians are bracing for more of the same.

Last year, Governor Corbett slashed funding for public education and kept his promise not to raise taxes.

Now, many people wonder how the governor will try to make up another multi-million dollar budget shortfall and who will pay.

Inside Hope Enterprises in Williamsport, people are hard at work putting boxes together. Hope receives most of its funding from the state government and in turn, helping people with developmental disabilities.

Things are tight these days after Hope Enterprises lost more than $1 million in state funding last year, said Executive Director Jim Campbell.

“If we were to have that adjustment factor again this year, it would be difficult to maintain the level of service we have,” said Campbell.

Then, according to Campbell, Hope might be forced to cut back on the staff that provide services to about 800 families throughout seven counties.

Many times, the Lycoming County United Way picks up the slack. The agency helps pay for transportation to and from Hope Enterprises.

While United Way officials commend the governor for trying to rein in spending, they said any cuts should not put a heavy burden on programs that help the less fortunate.

“In balancing that budget I think you have to look at the most vulnerable as you mentioned. They are the people that without social services are at the most risk,” said Scott Lowery with the Lycoming County United Way.

At her home north of Montoursville, Barbara Jarmoska has an even greater hope for fixing the state’s budget troubles and it calls for taxing the natural gas industry.

“If we are to proceed with the warp speed that I disagree with, we ought to at least take a look at how this industry can be used to solve our financial crisis,” said Jarmoska who is with the Responsible Drilling Alliance.

State lawmakers seem poised to vote on a proposed impact fee on the industry, something that is very likely to come up in the governor’s budget proposal.

Still, Jarmoska sees the need to keep money flowing to regulatory agencies that oversee gas drilling, agencies including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“These agencies are at a time in history when more than ever they need adequate funding and they’re seeing their funding cut,” she added.

According to state revenue officials, tax collections are $497.2 million below estimate so far this fiscal year.

The governor will make his budget address 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the State Capitol in Harrisburg.

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