2018 Budget

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Senate is back in session, and is gearing up to respond to a budget package the House passed last week.

Senate leaders aren’t revealing much about their plans—though they indicate they have fundamental disagreements with House leaders.

Meanwhile, the standoff is prompting credit rating agencies and budget experts to put the commonwealth on their watch lists.

Senate To Confront No-Tax Package In 80-Day Budget Fight

Sep 18, 2017
Carolyn Kaster / AP

The Pennsylvania Senate is due to reconvene in Harrisburg on day 80 of an increasingly ugly budget fight.

The Senate's chief piece of business Monday is sorting through the House's no-new-taxes plan approved last week amid a three-month stalemate over plugging a projected $2.2 billion budget hole.

Pennsylvania's Ugly Budget Fight Gets Personal And Regional

Sep 18, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The feel-good bipartisan spirit that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf tried to instill last year in Pennsylvania's Capitol is gone, stomped to bits in an increasingly ugly budget stalemate.

Matt Rourke / AP

The commonwealth is putting off paying over a billion dollars to insurers who administer Medicaid benefits, because its main bank account is almost out of money.

It will be at least a week before the state can afford to pay, and the delay will probably mean the insurers will charge interest.

In some ways, this is a recurring problem for the commonwealth: bills come due at the beginning of the fiscal year, but revenue doesn’t come in until later.

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 On Edge Of Missing Payments In Budget Stalemate

Sep 15, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state government appeared on the edge, for the first known time, of missing a payment as a result of not having enough cash on hand amid a feud over how to patch a $2.2 billion budget gap.

Gov. Tom Wolf's office has not revealed how the Democrat will manage through a cash crunch that he has said will leave his administration unable to pay every bill on time, three months into the fiscal year. Beginning Friday, the state's main bank account was projected to go below zero.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania Senate's Republican majority leader is pledging fast action following the House's passage of a plan to help plug state government's $2.2 billion budget gap almost three months into the fiscal year.

Sen. Jake Corman said in a statement late Wednesday night that senators recognize the situation's urgency. Thursday is the last day that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says his administration has enough cash to pay bills on time until the spring.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House of Representatives has narrowly voted to move a budget plan built largely on one-time fund transfers.

Although it represents the first action on the overdue budget in well over a month, it’s unclear how much it’ll move the needle toward a resolution.

The Senate and the administration of Governor Tom Wolf both support a very different plan that raises several taxes—something the House majority wants to avoid completely.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state House is still working on a plan to fill a $2.2 billion dollar gap in a budget that is almost three months late.

But negotiations took an unexpected turn Tuesday when the chamber adjourned suddenly without holding an expected vote on a plan from a conservative faction of members.

On Monday, House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin had appeared fairly sure a vote would happen the next day.

But something happened in the hours since then that stalled the process.

Matt Rourke / AP

Heated speeches could be heard from the House GOP’s closed caucus room Monday night, as a conservative faction attempted—for several hours—to rally support for a budget funding plan that wouldn’t raise taxes.

They’ll probably vote on the proposal sometime Tuesday—whether or not it’ll actually pass.

House GOP leaders largely avoided commenting on the situation.

House GOP To Test Budget-Balancing Plan In Growing Stalemate

Sep 11, 2017
Carolyn Kaster / AP

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will return to session Monday for the first time in seven weeks as a lengthening budget stalemate is drawing warnings by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that he is out of options to make payments on time.

Hanging in the balance is $2.2 billion in program funding — about 7 percent of approved spending — and another downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating.

Matt Rourke / AP

Agencies are raising alarms over a GOP-backed House plan to redirect billions of dollars to fill gaps in the state’s badly unbalanced budget.

The proposal comes from a conservative faction of the House.

Supporters say it wouldn’t impact state departments, because the money to be transferred is all surplus that has increased over the last few years without being spent.

But a number of agencies say they’d be profoundly affected.

PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said the funds identified as “surplus” are virtually all committed for future projects.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania is in its third month with no balanced budget.

Governor Tom Wolf, Senate Democrats and Republicans, and House Democrats are pushing House Republicans to agree to a compromise plan that would raise some taxes and borrow money to fill a $2.2 billion shortfall.

The caucus is still holding out—and even its own members appear conflicted on what to do.

About 20 of the House’s more conservative members released a plan this week to balance the budget on transfers from the special state funds that help pay for things like transportation and parks.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says a plan assembled by a group of House Republicans to balance Pennsylvania's budget is "nonsense" and urged House members to approve a $2.2 billion bipartisan plan that passed the state Senate in July.

Wolf said Wednesday the House GOP plan would divert aid from other programs, such as volunteer fire companies, highways and county emergency response agencies.

Wolf also repeated an earlier warning that he'll have to start freezing some spending on Sept. 15 to prevent the state's main bank account from going below zero.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A group of House Republicans has unveiled a plan to balance the more than $2 billion budget deficit by, primarily, raiding dozens of state funds.

Eighteen rank and file House Republicans said they spent most of the summer working on the plan, which they named “The Taxpayers’ Budget.”

It would transfer cash from the so-called “special” funds that help pay for a number of state programs and services. Supporters of the plan said they limited the transfers to funds with “inordinately high” balances.

Wolf: Pennsylvanians Will 'Get Hurt' If Budget Isn't Funded

Sep 5, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is warning that Pennsylvanians will "get hurt" if state lawmakers don't pass a revenue package to balance a nearly $32 billion budget bill they approved more than two months ago.

Wolf also told interviewers on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh on Tuesday that his decision day is Sept. 15, when he'll have to start freezing some spending to prevent the state's main bank account from going below zero.

Wolf says freezing spending could affect roads, schools and emergency response systems.

No House votes are scheduled this week.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Nearly two months after the state's budget deadline, lawmakers still haven't reached a consensus on how to pay for the spending plan they authorized in June.

Wolf To GOP: State's Finances Will Soon Be 'Much More Dire'

Aug 29, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf warned House Republican leaders Tuesday that failing to fully fund the state budget will put Pennsylvania in "a much more dire financial situation" in the coming weeks.

Wolf's letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, Majority Leader Dave Reed and six other House GOP leaders urged them to act quickly to fill the budget's $2.2 billion revenue gap.

What Will The House Do? It’s Pennsylvania’s $2B Question

Aug 28, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The question of what Pennsylvania's House Republican majority will do about a $2.2 billion hole in the state budget is sending ripples of worry through some quarters.

John Miller / 90.5 WESA

After moving its headquarters to New York 11 years ago, iconic aluminum manufacturer Alcoa is returning to Pittsburgh, where it was founded, at the beginning of next month.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

With talk swirling of possible spending freezes over the unbalanced state budget, counties are trying to figure out how they may be impacted.

County commissioners are beginning to put together contingency plans in case any of their state funds get cut off.

Governor Tom Wolf has already stopped some spending to put it into budgetary reserves, and indicated this week that more could be coming.

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Less than two months into a new budget year, the state seems to be engaged in a loop of borrowing and paying itself back. 

On Aug. 16, the Pennsylvania Treasury provided a $750 million loan to the General Fund to pay its bills.

“It’s always a problem when you’re having to borrow money to pay your daily living expenses,” said Deputy Treasurer Jack Stollsteimer.

The state is scheduled to repay that loan Wednesday, as August revenues come into commonwealth coffers, but then ask for another loan at the end of the month from the Treasury’s Short Term Investment Pool.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

If Pennsylvania’s $2.2 billion budget gap isn’t filled soon, Governor Tom Wolf is indicating the commonwealth could be heading for major spending freezes.

Wolf said Tuesday that the situation could be resolved if House Republicans would just agree to a Senate revenue plan that includes several new taxes.

Caucus leaders are, for the most part, staying mum on how their negotiations are progressing.

By Sept. 15, the governor said he either has to put spending for certain state programs on hold, or borrow more money from the Treasury.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It’s been nearly a month since the state Senate voted through a revenue plan that would fund the state budget—if the House agrees to it.

 

But Harrisburg watchdogs are still poring over it to figure out where money is going.

 

The right-leaning Commonwealth Foundation has released a report detailing instances where senators slipped spending into a bill meant to fund the budget.

 

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania has had an unbalanced budget for nearly a month, and advocacy groups around the commonwealth say they have real concerns Governor Tom Wolf will soon have to start freezing spending as a result.

Pennsylvania Running Out Of Options For Cash To Pay Bills

Aug 21, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Top state officials are warning that Pennsylvania's deficit-strapped government is rapidly approaching a more severe stage in its seven-week-old budget stalemate, one in which Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf may have to start deciding which bills to pay and which to postpone.

Taxes are still being collected and checks are being cut by the Pennsylvania Treasury under a nearly $32 billion budget bill that lawmakers approved June 30, the day before the current fiscal year began.

Chris Knight / AP

Pennsylvania's general fund is on track to be $1.6 billion dollars underwater by the middle of next month.

In the past, the state Treasury has extended lines of credit to help the state keep paying immediate expenses when funds bottom out.

But Treasurer Joe Torsella says that may no longer be fiscally prudent.

The cash balance would have already hit zero this month, if not for a short term, $750 million credit line from the Treasury. The state has to pay that back with interest next week. But the fund is expected to run dry yet again before the end of August.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state House has no official plans to resume negotiations on balancing the state budget.

In a rare update, House Majority Leader Dave Reed said while members continue to discuss a proposal passed by the Senate last month, they’re not ready to introduce a counter-offer of their own.

Key components of the Senate plan include a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, sales tax expansions, and consumer taxes on natural gas, electricity, and phone service.

Reed said the consumer gas tax—known as a gross receipts tax—is particularly hard to swallow.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

State Treasurer Joe Torsella has extended a temporary, $750 million line of credit to keep Pennsylvania’s general fund balance from running dry this month.

He’s calling the situation “extraordinary and without precedent.”

That doesn’t quite square with the way Governor Tom Wolf has appeared to downplay the impact of the state budget still being unbalanced, over a month into the fiscal year.

Mel Evans / AP

Pennsylvania's state treasurer has authorized a short-term $750 million line of credit to keep the state's general fund from dipping into negative territory.

Treasurer Joe Torsella says the state hasn't had to borrow that much so early in the fiscal year in 25 years.

Torsella, a Democrat who took office in January, is urging legislators to "pass a responsible revenue package."

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