The House of Representatives passed the state's $27.65 billion budget for fiscal year 2012-13 last Thursday by a vote of 120 to 81.

Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Schuylkill) and Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Berks/Schuylkill) voted in support of the bill, which was signed by the governor.

Most importantly this year's budget contains no tax increases, Knowles and Tobash said. It represents an increase of less than 1.5 percent in appropriations and spends less than the commonwealth expended in the 2008-09 budget. This is the second year in a row that the budget has passed the General Assembly on time.

"We passed a balanced budget that doesn't place greater burdens on our hard-working taxpayers, or borrow money at the expense of our children's future," said Tobash. "By passing a fiscally responsible and sustainable budget reflecting both short- and long-term goals, such as job creation in the private sector, we're continuing to make steps in the right direction to getting Pennsylvania back on track."

In this year's budget, no Pennsylvania school district will receive less funding than it did last year due to the $100 million Accountability Block Grant, the two noted. The budget also contains $50 million designated for distressed school districts. Additionally, $246 million is being funded to public higher education, and it will receive the same amount of funding as last year, the two legislators said.

"As a result of some increased revenue projections, we were able to restore funding to some crucial areas, especially to public education," said Knowles. "I'm very glad that no school district in the state will receive less funding this year than it did last year.

"The budget also restores funding to hospital programs, and preserves funding for recreational and agricultural programs," said Knowles. "While this budget isn't perfect, it doesn't spend more than we're projected to bring in, and it's a responsible, on-time plan," Knowles added.

"Fiscal responsibility starts with meeting time standards, and as a Legislature, it's our constitutional requirement to pass a budget on time," said Tobash. "With that responsibility and with our difficult economic times, we've been forced to make imperative financial decisions with the long-term fiscal well-being of the state in mind."

The new budget took affect July 1.

For more information on the state budget, or any other state-related issue, contact Knowles' Tamaqua office at (570) 668-1240 or at www.RepKnowles.com [1] or Tobash's office in Schuylkill Haven at (570) 385-8235 or at www.RepTobash.com [2].