MERCERSBURG, Pa. — In town for a political fundraiser Wednesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he's prepared to make "tough cuts" and ensure the state legislature passes a budget on time after years of failing to do so under a previous administration.
"No other governor, I think, has faced a $4.2 billion deficit. We had to produce a budget in six weeks," Corbett said.
The governor attended a fundraiser at the Mercersburg Inn for state Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin. Rock said he expected to be joined by about 70 people, including House Majority Leader Mike Turzai.
Although the fundraiser was closed to the media, Corbett sat down for an interview beforehand.
The House, on a 109-92 vote Tuesday, passed a spending plan that mirrored Corbett's $27.3 billion proposal presented earlier in the year. However, amid complaints of fraud and waste, House members diverted funding from the Department of Public Welfare to education.
"You have to determine whether you'll be able to find the savings, and I'm very conservative when it comes to that," Corbett said.
The proposal goes to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration.
House Democrats, none of whom voted for the plan, criticized the proposed budget for its effect on education.
"The House Democrats created a budget last year of almost $29 billion, yet last year and the year before, the House Democrats cut the spending, cut the spending from the state to K-12," Corbett said.
Lawmakers had been using federal stimulus money to bolster distributions to the state's 500 public school districts.
"All the school districts were told, 'Be careful what you're doing with it because that federal money's not going to be there.' And it's not," Corbett said.
"We actually increased the state contribution to K-12 back to the 2008-09 level. If we're talking about who cut K-12 basic education funding, it was the Democrats and Gov. (Ed) Rendell in 2009-10 and 2010-11. We've actually taken it back up. Now, we have cut in other areas, like (education accountability) block grants, but we have to find the savings somewhere," Corbett said.
Corbett addressed several bills that could affect school districts. Among them is one that would allow districts to furlough for economic reasons and another that would require any tax increase over the cost of inflation be approved by the voters.
"There are some school districts that aren't making cuts because they didn't spend that (stimulus) money for their K-12 program," Corbett said, using Northern Lehigh School District as an example.