Last updated: March 16. 2013 10:06PM - 621 Views
ANDREW M. SEDER



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Gov. Tom Corbett hadn't even finished his 2013-14 budget address Tuesday when the emails, tweets and faxes started pouring in criticizing his proposals.


While some area legislators said they have both concerns and agreements with the Republican governor's proposed $28.4 billion budget, others could find very little that they could support.


Yudichak takes aim

Sen. John Yudichak, who last week railed against Corbett's proposal to privatize the state liquor monopoly and use the anticipated $1 billion in revenue for short-term use to fund public education initiatives, said Tuesday's address created more proposals that he finds use fuzzy math.


Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve much better investments in higher education and transportation, said Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township. This budget is not making those investments.


He called the governor's transportation budget a bizarre game of three-card Monty that calls on raising one tax and lowering another and the end result is revenue that does not come close to what's needed for the state's crumbling roadways and bridges.


He also took issue with pension reform and the education budget, both of which include promises and proposals that don't add up.


By keeping the higher-education funding flat for a second year in a row, after cutting it by 19 percent his first year in office, Yudichak said Corbett is being disingenuous by making it sound as if he's keeping funding stable.


Carroll raises concerns

Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Avoca, wasn't as harsh on Corbett's budget plan but he wasn't welcoming it with open arms, either.


While there are areas of concern, I have related policies in the governor's budget proposal including privatization, health care and pension reform, I prefer … to focus on policy initiatives upon which I share a common view.


Among them are increased funding for transportation, citizens with physical and intellectual disabilities, enhanced public safety and job creation.


The coming months will provide ample opportunity for a vigorous debate of each policy suggested by the governor, and I'm hopeful the legislative process will refine those policies offered (Tuesday) by the governor that do not align with those I embrace, Carroll said.


Even fellow Republicans didn't throw their full support behind the entire proposal.


Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, noted the governor's plan to address its crumbling infrastructure, which calls on phasing out the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax to fund repairs to roads and bridges will be carefully examined to determine if it is the best solution.


Another area Republican sounded a similar note of caution and due diligence.


Baker: Review proposals

Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, praised the governor for having finally thrown his support behind an overdue expansion of transportation funding. But she noted his recommendation will be thoroughly reviewed to see if it is sufficient, what the impact will be on motorists and businesses, what level of new work will result, and where those projects are located.


However, Baker noted the sources of revenue the governor has identified to support spending increases will be highly controversial. When asked which sources of revenue Baker specifically thought were controversial, she identified liquor privatization, transportation, lottery and pension reform as examples.


Pashinski critical

The pension reform proposal was something Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski seized on.


It's irresponsible for this governor to attack the retirement pensions of hundreds of thousands of teachers and state workers. The workers did not create this problem and they never missed a payment to the pension system, Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, said.


He also criticized the governor for refusing to accept billions of dollars in federal support to provide health care coverage as at least five other Republican governors have done.


By failing to opt for the Medicaid expansion, the governor has forfeited billions of federal dollars that would have provided health care for 500,000 people, created thousands of Pennsylvania jobs, improved our economy, lowered the financial obligation of counties and reduced uncompensated care costs.


Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald, chided Corbett's budget, saying as a starting point, (it) has us pointed in the wrong direction.


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