The following is Governor Tom Corbett’s 2012-13 Budget Address to the General Assembly (as prepared for delivery):

Speaker Smith, President Pro Tempore Scarnati, Lieutenant Governor Cawley, members of the General Assembly, distinguished cabinet, fellow citizens.

Pennsylvanians are people who embrace important qualities. We value service. We value bravery. We value compassion. We saw these virtues on display last year when floods hit our state. Our first responders, our firefighters, our police, our men and women of the National Guard stepped into the breach to prove, once again, that we are a commonwealth and act for the common good.

In Montgomery County, Robert Spitko, a firefighter from Norristown, and Rick Russo, a swift water rescue boat crew member from Neshannock in Lawrence County, learned of a woman who had been swept away. They tethered themselves to rescue ropes and went through the swift and rising flood waters. They found that woman clinging to a sapling. They brought her back safe.

In Lycoming County, State Police Corporals Brad Eisenhower and Larue Stelene received calls about a woman and two children, ages 3 and 7, stranded on the roof of their home. The buildings around them had already been swept away. These brave men guided a hovercraft through those waters, at night time, and took that family to safety.

For several years we have seen courage on display as members of our National Guard served overseas in the War on Terror. I want to tell you about two of them. Recently they were each presented with a heart. It might be close to Valentine’s Day, but that’s not the reason. But it is out of love for their country, and what it means.

Specialist Ryan Petrill, from Luzerne County, was injured fighting in Afghanistan. Sergeant Matthew Keeler, from Delaware County, earned his purple heart in Iraq. We are grateful for their service, and even more grateful to have these winners of the Purple Heart back home in Pennsylvania. Welcome home, men.

These six heroes are here today representing the thousands of others in their ranks, who came through in our time of need, at home and overseas. Would you join me in one final round of applause for them?                                             

So, we ended last year with accounts of great courage. We began this new year on a note of sadness. Joe Paterno, a legendary coach and an ambassador for Pennsylvania in the world of sports, died. His commitment to Penn State and to the futures of the athletes he guided can never be doubted. Nor can his place in our history. Please join me in a moment of silence in honor of Joe Paterno.      

Last year, when I stood before you, I spoke of a grave dilemma. The state had a structural deficit of more than $4 billion. The public ledger demanded restraint. Our needs as a commonwealth demanded action. We accomplished much of real consequence.

For the first time in 40 years, we spent less. Our state budget was passed on time for the first time in almost a decade. And we imposed no new taxes on our citizens.

The reason was plain: State government has less revenue because our citizens have less for themselves. We can’t ask people to travel the road to recovery and then turn around and add to the burden they must carry along the way. To prevent cost reductions at the state level from being turned into new taxes at the local level, we enacted property tax reform.

Tort reform brought relief to job-creators who feared entering a marketplace where they could be forced to pay for damages that were not rightly theirs. I asked you last year to send me tort reform and said I would sign it. You sent it. I signed it. Thank you.

Early today, we passed legislation creating new Keystone Opportunity Zones. K-O-Z's, as they are often called, offer tax incentives and development assistance to businesses. They have the potential to bring thousands of jobs to Pennsylvania. This sends a strong message that Pennsylvania's open for business.

After long negotiations, we are close to reaching a consensus on how to address the impacts in the Marcellus Shale regions. I am pleased with the progress we have made and I applaud the cooperative spirit you and your staffs demonstrated while working to resolve this complex issue. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.

By keeping taxes in check and spending under control we continued to replace jobs lost in the recession. Those jobs weren’t created by decree. They grew because Pennsylvania’s budget, rather than postpone the inevitable, faced up to the moment. We reduced spending to fit the realities of our time. Pennsylvania took its first steps toward changing the culture of tax-and-spend.

Together, we showed we can make reforms that count. It is time to show citizens, weary of empty promises and doubtful that real change can be believed in, that we can accomplish more. In this administration we have decreased overall spending by six percent. We reduced the state automobile fleet by more than 1,200 cars. In the agencies that fall under the supervision of the governor, we have eliminated “per diem” expense accounts. We insist on receipts. In every sense, the message of reform is, “don’t waste.”

The alternative was to raise taxes to cover that deficit. What would this have meant?

Last year alone, the personal income tax increase necessary to close that $4.2 billion gap would have cost the average Pennsylvania family of four $920 - just to maintain a status quo that wasn’t working. If we did so this year, we’d be taking an additional $300. In two years, a two-income family of modest means would be handing over an additional $1,200 simply to maintain a system that is just plain broken, inefficient and in need of reform.