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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Highlights of Pennsylvania's 2014-15 budget

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News,Business,Budgets and Deficits,Pennsylvania

Highlights of the $29 billion spending package signed by Gov. Tom Corbett for the fiscal year that started July 1. Comparisons are to the budget approved for the previous fiscal year:

THE BIG PICTURE

— Authorizes a spending increase of $651 million, or 2.3 percent, to $29 billion over last year's approved budget. Counting another $220 million that it adds to the books of the previous fiscal year, the entire package is a $871 million increase, or about 3.1 percent.

— Generates $29.5 billion through taxes, fees and other revenue sources, an increase of $940 million, or 3.3 percent.

TAXES/REVENUES

— Contains no new taxes.

— Continues to phase out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, which was targeted for elimination this year but is now slated to expire in 2016.

— Reduces the time period in which unclaimed property must be held by institutions and businesses from five years to three, generating $150 million in one-time revenue.

— Relies on more than $900 million in transfers from off-budget lottery revenues, legal settlement money paid by tobacco companies and revenue from oil and gas drilling on state lands.

— Transfers $85 million from the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund and $95 million from the Small Business First Fund.

— Postpones the payment of $393 million to providers of medical care and mental health services under Medicaid.

— Transfers $125 million from fees paid by the state's licensed casino owners.

EDUCATION

— Does not increase $5.5 billion in basic education funding to public schools for instructional and operational costs.

— Provides $100 million in new money for Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed new "Ready to Learn" block grant program that will provide a menu of options that guide school districts on how they can use the money.

— Increases special education funding by $20 million.

— Increases funding for school construction by $10 million.

— Increases spending on early-childhood education by $10 million, providing access to pre-school programs for nearly 1,700 additional children.

PENSIONS

— Sets aside $1.67 billion, an increase of about $555 million, to pay the state's share of pension obligations for state and school employees.

— Transfers $225 million in private equity investments and cash reserves from legal settlement money paid by tobacco companies to help pay the state's pension obligations.

HEALTH CARE/SOCIAL SERVICES

— Increases traditional Medicaid aid to hospitals by about $175 million to $4.5 billion. Does not include $393 million in payments postponed until the next fiscal year.

— Increases aid for the long-term care of the elderly by about $170 million to $1.66 billion.

— Increases funding for the Department of Public Welfare operations, county assistance offices, information systems by $69 million to $499 million.

— Projects $125 million in first-year savings from changes to the state's Medicaid program that still require federal approval.

— Increases funding for mental health services by $41 million to $732 million.

— Increases funding for county child welfare services by $28 million to $1.08 billion.

— Increases funding for services for Medicaid-eligible people with intellectual disabilities by $40 million to nearly $1.07 billion.

LAW AND ORDER

— Increases funding for the Department of Corrections by $97 million to $2.06 billion.

— Increases funding for Pennsylvania State Police operations and cadet classes by nearly $15 million to $205 million.

NATURAL GAS DRILLING

— Allows the extraction of natural gas from beneath state-owned parks and forests through drilling on private, adjacent lands or pre-existing surface leases on public lands.

— Requires future oil and natural gas drilling regulations to be different for distinct methods of extraction.

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Sources: Senate Republicans, House and Senate Democrats, 2014-15 state budget documents.

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