2016 Budget

Office of the Governor

In contrast to last year to last year’s nine month impasse, Pennsylvania legislators and Governor Tom Wolf have reached an agreement on the state budget less than two weeks after the July 1st deadline.

Governor Wolf attributed this partly to the momentum built up by passing medical marijuana, liquor reform, and a new education funding formula.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

Despite a Wednesday deadline, Pennsylvania is still without a budget. The State House and Senate have agreed to a $31.6 billion spending plan, but Gov.Tom Wolf has refused to sign it without an accompanying revenue plan.  

 

 

Julio Cortez / AP Images

The deadline for Pennsylvania's 2016-17 budget is Friday and a compromise is looking more likely this year than last. We'll ask Majority Leader Dave Reed what's included in this year's budget and how negotiations are different in this session.

Matt Rourke / AP File Photo

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says another budget impasse would lead to a “backdoor tax increase” in Pennsylvania.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Thursday that if lawmakers and the governor allow another lengthy budget stalemate to take place without “dealing” with the state’s projected structural deficit, the commonwealth will receive another credit downgrade, hiking the cost of borrowing.

George Yost Coffin / Wikimedia Commons

As Pennsylvania’s government faces a budget deficit of well more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year, one legislator is teaming up with a Harrisburg think tank to call for changes to income tax rates.

According to state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the three proposals hashed out Monday would close the state’s “structural” budget deficit by shifting the income tax burden from low- and middle-income residents to the wealthiest Pennsylvanians.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic state lawmakers who were reliable backers of Governor Tom Wolf’s agenda during the budget impasse say they may not stick so closely to his side in the next year.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said his caucus will do some soul-searching ahead of the next round of budget negotiations, after coming away with so little from the budget impasse.

“We might go down a different path,” Costa told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t know where we’ll end up.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

When the state’s finances are the subject of partisan debate, it helps to turn to the analyses of the ratings agencies that judge creditworthiness – and two of the three major credit ratings agencies are warning that Pennsylvania’s fiscal problems aren’t over, even if its budget impasse is.

With Budget Impasse Ending, What's Next?

Mar 24, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP Images

After battling the legislature for nearly nine months, what finally convinced Governor Wolf to allow the the supplemental budget to close out Fiscal Year 2015-16? And while the state budget crisis is over for now, what will happen between now and the next budget deadline on July 1? We'll talk with John Micek, editorial and opinion pages editor for the Harrisburg Patriot-News and PennLive.

After Nine Months, Budget Battles Come To An End

Mar 24, 2016
Chris Knight / AP Images

Nearly nine months into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania's budget impasse will end this week. Governor Wolf has said he will allow a roughly six billion dollar supplemental funding plan to become law, but without his signature. "I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply doesn't add up," said the Governor who insists the budget is unbalanced, exacerbating a nearly two billion dollar structural deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. We'll talk with Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai about the governor's decision and the end of the 2015-2016 budget impasse.

Wolf’s Budget Finale Leaves Some Loose Ends

Mar 23, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

 

The state spending stalemate is ending, but lawmakers could face some unfinished budget business.

While Governor Tom Wolf will let the rest of a state budget take effect, he’s vetoing companion legislation known as the fiscal code.

The fiscal code is often referred to as the budget’s instruction manual. Wolf’s office said this one had directions the governor didn’t appreciate – like wiping out new gas drilling regulations and authorizing borrowing to reimburse school construction costs (the governor said the debt service will be too expensive at this point).  

Budget Plan Puts GOP, Wolf On Collision Course

Mar 16, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf could be headed for another clash over the Pennsylvania budget, now more than eight months late.

Top Republican lawmakers say they’ll pass a plan this week to restore funds vetoed by the governor late last year. The more than $6 billion proposal would bring the total state budget to about $30 billion, and the supplemental funding aims to make a variety of line items whole again – like the schools, rural hospitals, and agricultural programs on the brink of closing because they haven’t received all their state money.

Do Budget Talks Warrant An Outside Mediator?

Mar 14, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

State budget hearings for the governor’s most recent spending proposal have drawn to a close, but not without an unusual bit of advice from a House lawmaker.

Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-Philadelphia) said it’s time for legislative leaders and the governor’s office to bring in some outside help to end the budget impasse: a third-party mediator.

“I am calling for mediation,” said DeLissio, testifying to the final, sparsely attended budget hearing by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. “I am concerned that things have been said that cannot be unsaid.”

Last Budget Meeting Was In December, Lawmaker Says

Mar 11, 2016
Governor Tom Wolf / 90.5 WESA

The state hasn’t had a full spending plan for more than eight months, but top lawmakers haven’t yet had a budget meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration in 2016, the House Appropriations Committee chairman said Thursday.

“We haven’t met since December,” said Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware). “And we should have been.”

Brett Levin / Flickr

  School superintendents holding out hope for an end to the state budget impasse may have to accept closing their doors, state Budget Secretary Randy Albright said Friday.

Albright's forbidding instructions outline nearly a dozen steps for school districts managing their own demise.

"We don’t expect anything until maybe later in the month of March or early in the month of April," he said. "We don’t know when that will occur. It’s something that we continue to simply monitor."

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Budget hearings got off to a testy start in the state Capitol as the Wolf administration defended the governor’s spending proposal on Monday, the first day of three weeks of scheduled hearings.

The Capitol hasn’t fully emerged from last year’s budget stalemate over taxes and spending, but lawmakers are launching into this year’s planning process, even if it’s not clear how the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature can meet in the middle.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

  Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday laid out a new spending plan for lawmakers — even as they keep fighting over billions in the current budget.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Pennsylvania lawmakers are returning to the Capitol with growing questions over the state government's increasingly confusing budget situation.

Governor Wolf Previews 2016-17 Budget Address Despite Impasse

Feb 5, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP Images

With his 2016-2017 budget address due on February 9th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf joins us to talk about some of what he's planning to propose including more funding for education. But does it make sense for Governor Wolf to give a budget address without having one now? And can revenue come from somewhere other than taxes which Republican legislators are opposed to raising

Deciphering The Befuddling Budget Situation

Feb 1, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP Images

90.5 WESA Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer spoke with  House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) and  Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) about their concerns and the public’s perception that lawmakers can’t get along.  

Costa blamed lawmakers' philosophical differences.

“At the end of the day, we recognize that we want to do many similar things, investing in education, human service programs, economic development (and) job growth,” he said. “The question becomes about how we go about doing that.”

Poll Shows Steady Disdain For PA Government

Jan 28, 2016
David Amsler / Flickr

The holidays didn’t do much to ease Pennsylvania angst about state government, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College survey, showing most respondents take a dim view of the state’s future.

The poll found that 67 percent of registered voters surveyed said Pennsylvania is headed “off on the wrong track” – a record figure in the past five years of polling.

And 38 percent said the state’s “most important problem” is government and politicians.

Mark Hillary / Flickr

It is no consolation to Steve Gildea that he is part of a growing club.

The CEO of Tyrone Hospital in Blair County is just one of many people forced to deal with funding losses due to the state budget mess in Harrisburg.

“We are going to probably have to curtail some of the programs that we provide and some of the hours that people are working,” said Gildea. “I think that’s a given.”

Governor Tom Wolf vetoed supplemental Medicaid payments for the state’s 14 rural hospitals, six burn units, and dozens of urban and rural childbirth centers in late December.

SCI Albion / cor.pa.gov

The state Senate is lining up a plan to restore state prison funding vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf late last year, in an attempt to clean up some of the fallout from the state’s messy budget impasse, now in its seventh month.

The bill would bring back more than $900 million to the state corrections system. Wolf’s partial veto eliminated those funds, as well as billions more for healthcare, agriculture and other items, in a bid to compel lawmakers to strike a budget deal.

No Budget Deal In Sight As Pennsylvania Senate Reconvenes

Jan 19, 2016
Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

 

The Pennsylvania Senate is returning to its first voting session of 2016, as Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers give no signs of resolving a 7-month-old budget fight that's left billions in school aid in limbo.

Tuesday's session is three weeks before Wolf is scheduled to deliver his second budget proposal to the Legislature, that one for the fiscal year that begins next July 1.

Right-To-Know Revisions Await Lawmakers

Jan 16, 2016

Legislation is waiting in the wings to update the state’s Right-to-Know law, overhauled in 2008 to make government records more accessible.

The eight-year-old re-write corrected laws once considered among the worst in the nation and flung open the filing cabinets of some state and local government and let the public in – to sometimes overwhelming effect.

What’s the single largest category of people filing record requests?

Wolf Still Hopes For Budget Deal As Next Proposal Nears

Jan 14, 2016
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he's hoping to finish a budget deal for the half-finished fiscal year before he delivers a spending proposal for the year starting next July 1.

PA Sees Exodus Of Veteran, Moderate State Lawmakers

Jan 14, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

One legacy of Pennsylvania’s 2015 budget gridlock may prove to be the wave of retirement announcements from longtime state lawmakers.

More than a dozen House and Senate members are calling it quits, most of them with more than a decade of service under their belts.

Their reasons vary.

“Let me put it this way: the impasse didn’t convince me to stay,” said Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery), elected in 2006.

“The art of compromise needs to be revisited in the Capitol,” Vereb said, “and I think the art of the deal – someone should read up on it.”

Like Budgets That Pass In The Night

Jan 13, 2016
Ken Marshall / Flickr

State lawmakers are bracing for a dizzying prospect: planning the next fiscal year’s spending before the current year’s budget has been finalized.

Dates are set for Governor Tom Wolf’s February budget address and the legislative hearings that follow.

“I will say it will be a little bit different if we don’t have a budget concluded,” said Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed.

David Flores / Flickr

 

Pennsylvania's state treasurer is extending a $2 billion line of credit to prevent the state government from bouncing checks amid a seven-month-old budget fight between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Charter Schools Cry Foul Over Funding Cut

Jan 6, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

The warm, fuzzy feelings didn’t last long.

As the state expedited billions of dollars in overdue payments to schools, counties, and social services, charter schools condemned the Wolf administration’s decision to reroute some of their money in the absence of a Legislature-approved funding formula.

When lawmakers passed a budget right before the New Year, they neglected to approve other related items that act as a roadmap for spending decisions. A “school code” bill setting an education funding formula never passed.

Ken Marshall / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Treasury announced Monday the distribution of $3.3 billion in emergency payments to school districts, counties and human services organizations. Gov. Tom Wolf released the funds last week, while vetoing parts of a budget proposal left to him before Christmas.

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