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Pennsylvania budget doesn't sit well with some legislators

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 4:46 a.m.

The 2013-14 state budget is not winning friends in Mon-Yough area legislative districts.

Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Minority Chairman James Brewster, D-McKeesport, said on Monday that smaller third-class cities are excluded from a new economic development program.

The 2013-14 tax code authorizes creation of City Revitalization and Improvement Zones for eligible smaller municipalities but excludes cities with populations below 30,000, including all six in Brewster's 45th District.

Of 53 third-class cities, eight can seek CRIZs: Altoona, Bethlehem, Chester, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and York.

“This budget fails the Pennsylvanians we promised to serve,” said Brewster, who criticized how education is funded in the 2013-14 budget.

Brewster said there are at least 33 school districts in real economic distress that won't get relief in the 2013-14 budget.

Area districts will get more money than last year, but it still is less than before Gov. Tom Corbett took office in 2011, House Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Joseph Markosek, D-Monroeville, said.

Markosek's office detailed estimated basic funding for 2013-14 as compared to 2012-13 and 2010-11:

• Clairton gets $6,837,019, up from $6,752,810 in 2012-13, down from $7,642,051 in ‘10-11.

• Duquesne gets $8,568.333, up from $8,501,863 last year, and up from $7,860,726 it received in 2010-11. Duquesne is on a list deemed by state officials to be in “severe financial recovery.”

• East Allegheny's $6,113,898 is up from $5,965,196 last year, down from $7,860,726 in 2010-11.

• Elizabeth Forward gets $8,955,333, up from $8,783,647 last year, down from $9,820,612 in 2010-11.

• McKeesport Area gets $23,332,092, up from $22,978,794 last year, down from $26,266,961 in 2010-11.

• Norwin gets $15,362,302, up from $15,056,768 last year, down from $17,252,226 in 2010-11.

• South Allegheny gets $9,334,300, up from $9,198,036 last year, down from $10,307,644 in 2010-11.

• Steel Valley gets $8,578,116, up from $8,437,948 last year, down from $9,465,746 in ‘10-11.

• West Jefferson Hills gets $5,311,894, up from $5,155,044 last year, down from $5,956,631 in 2010-11.

• West Mifflin Area gets $6,536,189, up from $6,340,318 last year but down from $7,333,101 in 2010-11.

Accountability Block Grant amounts, which are included in 2010-11 figures, are unchanged from 2012-13.

Clairton gets $101,362; Duquesne $110,911, East Allegheny $161,135, Elizabeth Forward $199,623, McKeesport Area $404,611, Norwin $222,586, South Allegheny $132,847, Steel Valley $163,215, West Jefferson Hills $105,529 and West Mifflin Area $194,523.

Commonwealth Foundation analyst Priya Abraham said Corbett took office at the same time as funding by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ended. The federal stimulus act included $1.3 billion for education.

“The following year, the state budget increased state dollars for public schools by $480 million,” Abraham said. “The 2013-14 budget would spend nearly $10 billion on (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) education. This represents a record high, even greater than state plus federal stimulus dollars.”

Under Corbett the formula shifted away from equity funding, which weighted education subsidies toward poorer districts.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967,.