The Good, The Bad and The Undone

The Commonwealth Foundation praised Gov. Tom Corbett and the General Assembly for closing Pennsylvania’s $4.2 billion budget gap without raising taxes on working Pennsylvanians, but a thorough review of the final budget and other policy changes found some good, some bad, and some critical pieces of legislation left undone.  

“By fulfilling his promise to balance the budget without raising taxes Gov. Corbett took a major step toward growing our economy instead of growing our government,” said Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation.  “We commend the House and Senate members who helped the governor pass a fiscally responsible budget, but it is clear we still have a lot more work to be done.”

 Among the good:

  • The total state operating budget is reduced for the first time in at least 40 years at $64 billion-more than $2 billion less than the previous fiscal year.
  • Lawmakers passed legislation to give voters a greater say in school tax increases, moving Pennsylvania closer to the controls taxpayers in every other state benefit from.
  • Pennsylvania will soon become the 37th state in the nation to put all state government spending online.
  • Lawmakers refrained from imposing an additional tax on natural gas drilling, one of the few bright spots in Pennsylvania’s economic and job growth.

 The bad:

  • State government is not paying all its bills, including not adequately funding pensions and pushing the liabilities on to future generations.
  • Too many corporate welfare programs continue to be funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • State union contracts failed to establish greater private-sector parity in compensation and health care benefits for unionized government workers.

The undone:

  • Too many mandates on public schools remain intact, including prevailing wage requirements and the inability of school boards to furlough teachers for economic reasons.
  • Legislators failed to protect Pennsylvania’s children by not throwing educational lifelines to children trapped in violent, failing public schools.

“While some choose to point fingers instead of finding solutions, thousands of children from across the Keystone State will now prepare to go back to violent and failing schools,” said Brouillette, a former teacher and charter school board member.  “It’s unacceptable to keep the status quo in these failing schools and we hope our legislators will keep their commitment when they return in September to throw these children an educational lifeline.”

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The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania’s independent think tank committed to the principles of the American Founding: limited constitutional government, personal and economic freedom, and individual responsibility.  For more information, please visit