State Budget Update

How Governor Corbett's proposed budget affects arts & culture and other community assets

On Tuesday, February 4, 2014, Pennsylvania State Governor Tom Corbett delivered his FY 2014-15 budget address before a joint session of the PA General Assembly.

 

The budget totals $29.4 billion, which is a $1 billion increase over the budget for the current fiscal year.

GroundSwell and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance have put together an analysis of the effect the Governor's budget will have on arts & culture, as well as other community assets:

Increased funding for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) grants
The appropriation for PCA grants to arts organizations has been increased by 5%, bringing the total appropriation for PCA to $8.59 million.

Increased funding for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC)
The budget for PHMC has been increased from $17.293 million to $18.74 million, an increase of 17%.  The increase is spread across the board for PHMC programs, including $2 million for museum assistance grants for non-state-owned museums and historic sites.

Increased overall funding for public libraries, but cuts for specific line items
The total appropriation for libaries is $61.3 million, a $231,000 increase over the current budget. However, the State Library System is slated for a $19,000 reduction in administrative costs, and public libraries are getting a $500,000 reduction in support services and a $250,000 reduction in funding for library access programs.

Decreased funding for parks
Overall funding for State Parks is decreased by $1 million due to a reduction in federal funding, and environmentalists are criticizing the Governor for relying on additional leases of natural gas rights in State Forests to generate revenue. On a more positive note, $45 million of the proposed funding will be allocated for select upgrades to State Parks and State Forests through a new program called the Enhance Penn's Woods initiative.

Tourism marketing funds for zoos eliminated
Funding for tourism marketing for the state’s zoos has been cut completely, down to zero from the current $550,000 level. This is similar to the situation zoos faced in the FY2012-13 and FY2013-14 budget seasons, where funding was also zero-ed out in the Governor's initial proposals. In the final FY2012-13 budget, level funding at $450,000 was ultimately restored, and the final FY2013-14 budget actually included a $100,000 increase.

Increased funding for public education
Corbett's budget calls for heavier investment in education, including $400 million for school districts statewide. The majority of that funding, $240 million, would be tied to the new Ready to Learn program, where school districts could choose which educational programming they wish to fund. The range of available programming choices, however, would be contingent on the district's academic performance.

A full budget summary is available here.

The budget proposal now goes to the PA General Assembly for consideration, with budget hearings in both houses scheduled to begin on February 10.

For additional policy updates and action alerts, sign up for GroundSwell, where you'll also receive information and opportunities to take action on issues you care about in your community.