The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

June 12, 2014

Shortfall leaves Corbett budget vows uncertain

HARRISBURG — Advocates and government agencies are chewing their fingernails as legislative leaders and the governor’s office scramble to close a $1.3 billion budget gap.

The stakes are high. Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed millions of dollars in aid for various groups including families waiting for services for intellectually disabled loved ones; state police counting on money to hire more troopers; and public schools still strained by years of reduced funding.

Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said the governor hasn’t given up on funding those and other efforts, which were initially included in his $29.4 billion budget.

“The governor clearly articulated his priorities,” said Pagni. “Discussions are continuing. We will work toward a balanced, responsible budget.”

But Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said there won’t be money for Corbett’s agenda without closing the gap, which appeared as tax collections came up short.

“The current revenue picture would suggest that none of those would be done, and indeed we’re going to need to go back into the budget and make real cuts if there is no desire to look at alternatives to fill in the shortfall,” Zogby told The Associated Press.

Sheila Stasko, associate director of the PA Waiting List Campaign, said she’s being a realist despite Corbett’s pledge in February to spend an extra $22.4 million on services for 1,100 people with intellectual disabilities.

“We are cautiously optimistic. But we are looking at it with common sense,” said Stasko. “It’s just a nasty budget.”

Stasko said more than 3,000 Pennsylvanians have moved from the waiting list into programs since Corbett took office in 2011. About 4,000 families remain on an emergency waiting list – meaning they need services immediately.

In March, The PA Waiting List Campaign and The ARC gave Corbett an award for championing families of those with disabilities.

Nancy Murray, president of ARC of Greater Pittsburgh, said advocates felt good about the governor’s interest.

“We felt pretty safe. We know we aren’t as safe now,” said Murray. “Anyone who has a stake in the budget should be worried about what is going to happen.”

In addition to money targeting the waiting list, advocates for the disabled were encouraged when Corbett called for $20 million more for special education funding for schools, said Stasko.

That’s in addition to $340 million he vowed to set aside for  extra school spending.

“We’re asking for a full and fair funding formula, one that is more rational and less political,” said David Koppisch, spokesman for Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, which sponsored a rally Tuesday at the Capitol that attracted 200 people.

Koppisch noted the funding struggles are certainly not confined to the cities.

“This cuts across urban, suburban and rural Pennsylvania,” he said.

Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Board Association, said uncertainty over the budget means local school districts may be forced to adopt 2014-15 spending plans without knowing how much they’ll get from the state.

If the state offers less than expected, local schools will have to reopen their budgets.

Students, teachers and school administrators certainly aren’t the only ones who could be pinched by last-minute budget wrangling in Harrisburg.

State police are hoping for $13.7 million to add four new cadet classes, in order to fill about 350 of 500 open trooper jobs. The first class is due to start in August.

Text Only
Local News
  • Better security Grant available to boost security in district courts

    County officials are looking to quickly upgrade security systems in the five district judge offices, not due to an increase in risk, but because current systems are antiquated and there is a short window to apply for some financial help with the costs.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials split over selling older monitors

    What to do with a pile of older LCD computer monitors, keyboards and mice remains up in the air until the third, and often absent, county commissioner makes a decision.

    July 24, 2014

  • Police anxious to talk with victim

    Sharon police want to talk to a West Hill man about several other men who came to his house shortly before he was shot and critically wounded Tuesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story