2017 Budget

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania budget crisis continues. Governor Tom Wolf said there will be no cuts or delays in state services if lawmakers can reach an agreement on how to fund the $32 billion budget by October 1st. That means the legislature has nine days to come up with more than $2.2 billion. And now, complicating the conversation, a credit rating agency downgraded Pennsylvania's credit rating.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he thinks fully legalizing medical and recreational marijuana could solve the state's growing budget problems.

Pennsylvania Is Not Alone: 11 U.S. States Haven't Passed Their Budgets

Jul 3, 2017
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The clock is ticking for Pennsylvania lawmakers to find more than $2 billion to balance the state's budget.

No agreements were reported Monday, three days after lawmakers sent the main appropriations bill in a $32 billion budget package to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's desk.

On Friday, Wolf called the spending plan "a start."

"There is still work to do," he said. "We need a sustainable revenue package that gets Pennsylvania on track. For too many years, Pennsylvania has lurched from crisis to crisis."

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Eight weeks after Governor Tom Wolf unveiled a $32.3 billion budget proposal for the new fiscal year, the Republican-controlled state House Tuesday approved its own version, a $31.5 billion spending plan.

The GOP plan was introduced Monday and was approved quickly along party lines with four Republicans joining all Democrats in voting “no.”  The Republican budget includes no tax hikes and cuts $800 million from Wolf’s proposal.

The governor called the Republican version “an opening conversation.”

Pittsburgh Budget Gets Final Blessing

Jan 20, 2017
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nearly three weeks into the new year, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority has given final approval to Pittsburgh’s 2017 budget.

The ICA approved Pittsburgh’s budget in October with the condition that the city find a way to replace $10 million in gaming revenues that would no longer be flowing into the city’s coffers.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval to a 2017 budget Tuesday that’s balanced by $10 million in casino revenues.

Gov. Tom Wolf / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s mid-fiscal year budget report has confirmed what the Independent Fiscal Office has been warning for well over a month: underperforming revenues are putting the commonwealth on track for a shortfall of around $600 million.

So how bad is that?

By all accounts, it’s a tenuous place for the state’s bank account to be. But it’s not without precedent.

Gov. Wolf Eliminating 'Thousands' Of Unfilled State Jobs

Dec 16, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says he's eliminating thousands of unfilled positions in state government as the state faces a large budget deficit.

The Wolf administration told cabinet agencies in a Friday memo obtained by The Associated Press that it is effectively limiting the size of the state workforce to the number of positions now filled.

Wolf's press secretary, Jeff Sheridan, says the decision will affect thousands of positions. But he says he doesn't have a precise number or know how much money will be saved.

GOP Eyes Big State Government Changes In Lean Budget Year

Dec 14, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State officials warned Wednesday Pennsylvania faces a projected $600 million shortfall for its current budget year, while one of the Legislature's top Republicans suggested sweeping structural changes to state government may be needed to solve the latest fiscal jam.

The projected shortfall in the state government's $31.5 billion budget is very bad fiscal news for budget makers who have struggled to address a persistent post-recession deficit that has damaged the state's credit rating.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto presented his proposed 2017 budget to City Council on Monday. The $539 million plan includes income from Rivers Casino.

PA Borrows $400 Million From Itself, Will Ask For More

Aug 19, 2016
HelenCobain / flickr

Despite having a balanced 2016-2017 budget, Pennsylvania has taken out a loan to pay its bills. 

The state's $31.5 billion budget approved in June created revenue increases, including a new tax on video streaming services and higher taxes on tobacco, but some of those have yet to start flowing into the state.

Fearing the Revenue Department’s check book, officially known as its general fund, would hit zero before those new taxes arrived, the department asked the state treasurer to give it a $2.5 billion line of credit.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s credit rating has improved, though only slightly, with Moody’s Investor Service upgrading the commonwealth’s financial outlook from negative to stable.

Since 2014, Moody’s rating of Pennsylvania’s credit has been a relatively mediocre AA3.

Dan Seymour, Moody’s lead analyst for Pennsylvania, said that’s relatively low for a state.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to save $150 million in state money by this fiscal year has exceeded its goal, netting a total of $156 million in efficiencies.

Now the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency has a new, more ambitious plan for the next three years. GO-TIME is aiming to increase those efficiencies to $500 million by fiscal year 2020.

GO-TIME Director Sharon Ward said much of the money saved will come from 154 programs that were already part of the initial initiative.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

When the state budget passed earlier this month, a lot attention focused on whether there was enough revenue to pay for it.

But one part was largely overlooked—the more than $100 million it included in tax credits.

They are basically a tax refund given to certain taxpayers chosen by the state.

Marc Stier, director of the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said the allocation is significant: the industries and companies that receive the breaks are the ones the state’s trying to bolster.

S&P Report Shows Good And Bad News For PA Finances

Jul 22, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After Pennsylvania went two days without a revenue plan last week, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings put its credit on its “CreditWatch" list.

Inclusion on the list signifies a state in danger of an imminent credit downgrade.

The commonwealth made it off the list this week, after the budget was balanced.

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.

PA Budget Becomes Law; Some Lawmakers Cry Foul

Jul 12, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state officially has a budget.

The $31.5 billion spending plan went into effect at midnight on Monday, without Governor Tom Wolf’s signature. But negotiations still aren’t finished on the revenue plan to back it up.

Deadline notwithstanding, lawmakers did seem to have a productive day of talks on the spending plan.

Senate GOP spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher called the progress “encouraging.” She said it seems likely a vote could come soon.

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll let a roughly $31 billion spending bill become law without his signature, even though lawmakers are struggling to figure out how to pay for some of it.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

With little news of progress on the 2017 state budget coming out of Harrisburg, school advocates around the state are crossing their fingers a resolution comes soon.

If not, Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association said state-funded institutions will be in bad shape come fall.

Robinson said schools used up a lot of resources during last year’s nine-month budget impasse.

Plan To Pay For $31.6 Bil Budget Still Unclear

Jun 30, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In this year’s budget negotiations, state legislators seem eager to show their constituents that last year’s nine-month deadlock is behind them.

After receiving the House’s nearly $31.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, the Senate quickly passed its general appropriations in a bipartisan vote, just a day before the Thursday deadline.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Republican Patrick Browne, said the Senate proposal contains only minor changes, notably adding money for higher education.

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.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  After a nine-month-long standoff over last year’s state budget, Pennsylvania lawmakers seem committed to getting a verdict out quickly this year. But there is still little information from the Capitol on what exactly the budget contains, and advocates from across the commonwealth are concerned the speed will come at the expense of quality.

Ralliers with the campaign Pennsylvania’s Choice congregated in the Capitol rotunda Monday to push for more spending in education, human services, and the environment.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

In contrast to last year’s lengthy impasse, Pennsylvania lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf appear to be close to an on-schedule budget deal. State Senator Jay Costa says neither party wants a repeat of 2015 and joins us to talk about what can be found in this recent budget, including pension reform, gambling tax changes and education funding formula changes.

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.

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is calling for an audit of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which oversees the city’s finances, after an investigation by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that nearly all of the authority’s records have been destroyed.

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.”

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.