NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a $27.15 billion state budget on Thursday night which reduces spending three percent from the current fiscal year and includes severe cuts to higher and basic education.
Corbett, a Republican whose party also controls both houses of the state legislature, hailed the deal as the state's first on-time budget in nine years. Pennsylvania's fiscal year begins July 1.
The budget will largely shrink spending back to fiscal 2009 levels. Spending increases after 2009 were largely paid for by federal stimulus funds designed to help states emerge from the recession and which are no longer available.
Corbett is among a new class of Republican governors that have made a splash in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida by calling for major cuts in government spending and tax breaks.
The budget, which does not include any tax increases, would cut about $860 million from public schools and scale back funding considerably for public universities, lawmakers said.
The state teachers union said the cuts would mean increasing class sizes, eliminating programs, laying off teachers, as well as forcing school districts to raise taxes.
(Reporting by Edith Honan. Editing by Peter Bohan)