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Governor's Proposes Modest Boost; Ambitious Advocacy Will Be Needed

Speaking before the Pennsylvania General Assembly on February 4, Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his budget plan for Fiscal Year 2014-15. His budget would spend about $29.4 million, an increase of about 3.3% overall. Some parts of the revenue side of his plan are viewed as controversial and may face an uphill climb in the legislature.

For libraries, funding for library line items remains stable if not modestly improved. The total amount proposed all library programs in Governor Corbett’s budget is $61.3 million up modestly from this year’s total amount of $61.1 million. Specifically, here’s what the Governor proposes for library programs for next year:

· $54,007,000 Public Library Subsidy ( up $500,000 / + 1% )

  • $ 2,821,000 Library Access ( down $250,000 / - 8% )
  • $ 2,567,000 Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled / ( level-funded )
  • $ 1,938,000 Office of Commonwealth Libraries ( down $19,000 / - 1% )

So taken together, the Governor’s budget would increase library funding at the state level by a net of $231,000 over this current year’s budget. For the Public Library Subsidy, although it is a modest increase, nevertheless it represents the first time a governor has proposed any increase in the subsidy since 2007.

Here’s the bottom line for right now. In the coming days, PaLA’s Legislative Committee, government relations advisors, and board leaders will agree on a strategy to build on the plan put forth by Governor Corbett. Recognizing that the political environment in Harrisburg remains largely unreceptive to requests for increased spending, PaLA believes that an ambitious approach targeted at improved access to library services could succeed.

It’s an election year and the governor’s budget always represents the starting point. While it is positive to see our overall budget line going up instead of down, clearly we have work ahead of us. With the economy improving—slowly but surely—and demand for library services greater than ever, this election year is an opportune time to press our elected officials to support improved access to all that libraries provide.

Thank you for your membership and strong support for all of PaLA’s advocacy efforts. Stay tuned for more specific details about PaLA’s strategy along with some important actions you can take to start us down the path to success.

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