Controller tells Corbett: Fix funding for Pa. courts
May 25, 2012 4:00 AM
Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner
By Len Barcousky Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Allegheny County residents face "double-taxation" to pay for some law enforcement and court services under next year's proposed state budget, Controller Chelsa Wagner warned Thursday.
She called on Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature to provide more than $9 million for those areas in his proposed 2012-13 spending plan. The state's new budget will take effect July 1.
"It's time for him to take care of his own," Ms. Wagner said of the governor. She slammed what she said was Mr. Corbett's proposal to continue to provide $5.5 million in state aid for Philadelphia municipal courts while cutting $2 million for similar courts in Pittsburgh.
She also decried his recommendation to eliminate a $7.5 million law enforcement grant that helps to fund the county's crime lab, medical examiner's office and county police.
State police provide services such as DNA testing and fingerprinting in other areas of the state that are paid for with state dollars, she said, including collections from Allegheny County. Without the $7.5 million law enforcement grant that partially reimburses the county, residents here will be paying twice for those services.
"County residents should be outraged about Gov. Corbett's budget," she said.
Ms. Wagner, a Democrat, has written the governor, a Republican, asking for a meeting.
At a news conference in the courtyard of the courthouse, she was joined by about a dozen residents. Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Gov. Corbett, disputed Ms. Wagner's statistics.
Funds for the crime lab and other law enforcement programs were trimmed in the 2007-08 budget proposed by former Gov. Ed Rendell and already eliminated last year. The governor's proposed 2012-13 budget, on the other hand, provides "level funding" for all courts, he said.
Philadelphia municipal courts had not gotten $5.5 million from the state since 2001, he said.