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State will lose $220M in federal budget cuts

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By Adam Smeltz
Saturday, June 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Pennsylvania expects to lose nearly $220 million for education, health, welfare and other services under federal budget cuts, Gov. Tom Corbett cautioned on Friday.

He wanted to make clear to Pennsylvanians that the losses will stem from budget inaction in Washington, not the $28.3 billion state budget lawmakers expect to pass by June 30, Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said.

“The (state) legislature and the governor are doing their jobs. It's Washington that's not,” Harley said.

In a prepared statement, Corbett said the state cannot afford to replace federal money being lost for the 2013-14 fiscal year that begins July 1. A series of across-the-board spending reductions, dubbed sequestration, began taking effect March 1, designed to draw down the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

The cuts started because President Obama and Republican congressional leaders could not reach a budget compromise.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, called the Republican governor “absolutely correct” in his criticism.

“It's very upsetting. In the 25 years I've been in office, it's been a slow reduction of the federal government's commitment,” Ferlo said. “They're taking more and more tax money from everybody, keeping it in Washington, and we're not getting a return on our investment.”

The Corbett administration said sequestration will mean a decrease of $22 million in special education funding for Pennsylvania next year. Other expected cuts include at least $6 million from the Women, Infants and Children program; $5.3 million from community mental health and domestic violence services; and $1.6 million from a public health preparedness program.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said he empathizes with Corbett's situation. But he said the governor's own party is to blame, calling on Corbett to press GOP lawmakers for a resolution.

“Or it's only going to get worse,” Doyle said.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676

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