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Criticized by Dems, praised by GOP, Corbett's plan gets approval

| Friday, June 29, 2012, 8:48 p.m.

HARRISBURG — A budget plan savaged by Democrats as taking from the poor to give to the rich but defended by Republicans as appropriate and responsive to taxpayers and businesses won final legislative approval on Friday before it went to Gov. Tom Corbett to become law for the next 12 months.

The 32-17 vote in the state Senate on the Republican-penned $27.7 billion plan will likely help Corbett keep his pledge for the second year in a row to sign an on-time budget, although it went to his desk with barely 30 hours to spare.

Three Democrats voted with majority Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, who nonetheless called the elimination of a Depression-era cash assistance benefit for poor adults who can't work “mean-spirited.”

The plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year that begins on Sunday would increase spending by about 1.5 percent, largely for debt, pensions and health care for the poor, as well as to help fill a shortfall in the almost-finished fiscal year.

Meanwhile, it would cut business taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, deposit around $350 million to $400 million into reserves and slash hundreds of millions of dollars from services for the poor, homeless, troubled and disabled.

Aid for public schools and universities would remain flat — a handful of public schools nearing financial collapse would see a little extra money — after absorbing more than $1 billion in cuts in the current fiscal year.

“This is the right budget for our residents and our job creators at this time,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, during floor comments. “It moves Pennsylvania in the right direction.”

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