Since Gov. Tom Corbett released his proposed 2013-2014 budget earlier this month, it's been touted as being a kinder, gentler budget than his first two efforts. It includes modest-but-real increases in social-service spending like education and mental health. Even budgetary whipping boys, like state-supported universities, are spared further cuts, as they are flat-funded.
But there's a catch. Corbett's increases depend on the legislature passing controversial reforms like raffling off the state store system, or forcing pension concessions from the teachers who educate students. And Corbett's previous austerity measures are part of the reason social services are in such dire straits to begin with. Call it the Schlock Doctrine: Enact a budget that will create a future crisis ... and then use the resulting crisis to justify future budgets. And it's not the only way in which Corbett promises less than it seems.
Sources: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Corbett Administration budget, Pennsylvania Health Access Network, news accounts