HARRISBURG – State Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield Elk) voted Thursday to support the proposed state budget, which now faces a final vote in the state Senate. The bill, which passed with a bipartisan vote of 120-81, proposes $27.7 billion in total General Fund spending for Fiscal Year 2012-13. It contains no tax increases and returns spending to 2008-09 pre-stimulus levels, with growth that is less than the rate of inflation.
Gabler issued the following statement upon passage by the House:
“Pennsylvanians want elected officials to abide by the same principles in crafting a state budget that they do when crafting their household budgets. They want us to be good stewards of their tax dollars, live within our means and use the revenues they send us to support the core functions of state government while giving taxpayers the best value for their money. While not perfect — no budget or piece of legislation ever is — this spending plan meets that criterion, which is why it drew my support.
“Basic education is one of those core functions, and financial support for schools in the 75th District will exceed 2011-12 levels. Accountability block grants, which give our schools flexibility, have been restored to $100 million in this budget. Furthermore, the proposed block grant structure that our school districts opposed has been eliminated, and individual line items were restored.
“The original budget proposed in February included a 20 percent cut to funding for human service programs administered by counties. We managed to restore a substantial portion of these funds, while opposing a proposal to restructure them, something our local county officials did not support. This restored funding will enable citizens on waiting lists to be served and reduce the pressure on our local county budgets.
“The restorations made in this budget were possible because of fiscally responsible decisions we made during last year’s budget process. While some opponents of last year’s budget called for an additional $1 billion in the 2011-12 budget, we knew that was simply unrealistic. As we have settled on economically sustainable numbers, this year’s $27.656 billion General Fund Budget shows we can set responsible priorities while living within our means.
“Passage of this budget continues the effort to reduce the size of government, leaving it more fit, trim and efficient than in recent years while upholding our responsibilities to vital programs. We began this budget process with a $700 million shortfall and were forced to plan for the worst while hoping for the best. This is the best Pennsylvania can do with existing revenues, as we learn again to spend no more than we have, not what we wish we had.”