budget

Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers—particularly the ones running for office—have spent the last month touting the fact they passed a budget ahead of schedule after a decade of regular impasses.

Their success wasn’t unusual this year—nearly every state passed an on-time budget thanks to strong revenues.

Late budgets have become routine in a number of states since the 2008 recession.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

For the first time in Gov. Tom Wolf’s tenure, he has signed a budget. And after three years of protracted negotiations, the election year plan is finished well ahead of its June 30 deadline.

The modest, compromise measure spends $32.7 billion—a roughly two percent increase over last year.

New spending goes mostly to public schools, pensions, prisons and human services—including about $800 million in one-time funding for Medicaid that was moved off-budget, which will have to be filled in again next year.

Republicans cheered the lack of new taxes.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has taken a significant step toward finishing the commonwealth’s $32.7 billion budget plan ahead of next week’s deadline—passing the measure on to the Senate in a near-unanimous vote.

The deal is on track to be the first on-time budget of Governor Tom Wolf’s tenure.

The proposal was negotiated by House and Senate leaders and the governor, and until this week, the process happened almost entirely behind closed doors.

$32.7B Budget Package Speeds Toward Pennsylvania House Vote

Jun 20, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Key elements of a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania's approaching fiscal year are heading toward a state House vote.

The no-new-taxes spending package unveiled just a day earlier is scheduled for a House vote Wednesday after Republican majority leaders negotiated it behind closed doors with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. It still requires Senate approval.

90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania might have its state budget—or at least part of it—done by the end of this week.

Rank and file members don't have much information yet. But if all goes to plan, Republican leaders say a proposal could make it through the House by the end of this week, and the Senate at the beginning of next—well ahead of the June 30th deadline.

“Very confident we’ll be able to advance a final product at the end of this week into next week,” Senate GOP Appropriations Chair Pat Browne said.

Matt Rourke / AP

With the commonwealth’s budget deadline a month away, negotiations haven’t begun in earnest.

But talks are ongoing behind the scenes—and that means a familiar tug-of-war between Democrats trying to bolster state programs, and Republicans determined to limit spending.

Centerpieces of Gov. Tom Wolf’s February budget proposal included funding hikes for education and services for the elderly and people with disabilities, plus new cash from a natural gas severance tax and fees for state police coverage.

Matt Rourke / AP

It’s almost time for lawmakers to start work on the state budget.

But after several cycles of tortuous negotiations made more difficult by persistent revenue shortfalls, it looks like this year might be smoother sailing.

Thanks to last year’s weak revenue collections, lawmakers were faced with a nearly $1.5 billion hole.

They finally filled it through—mostly—borrowing. But it took until late October, three months past the deadline.

This year, the shortfall is much smaller.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Just months after exiting financially distressed status, the city of Pittsburgh is continuing its march toward financial stability, according to city controller Michael Lamb. On Tuesday, he announced a surplus of $17 million for 2017.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The commonwealth’s Independent Fiscal Office has released its yearly assessment of Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal.

It reports that most of the revenue estimates check out. That is, if Wolf can figure out how to get his ideas past the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

The Democratic governor’s fourth budget proposal—and the final one of his first term—brings back a lot of the ideas he’s been trying unsuccessfully to pass for his entire tenure.

Key components are a natural gas severance tax, a minimum wage increase to $12 an hour, and a corporate tax overhaul.

PA Internet News Service

Governor Tom Wolf proposed an ethics reform package Monday that includes a complete gift ban for elected and new campaign finance laws that would strengthen money disclosure requirements for candidates.

Wolf is also proposing that if lawmakers don't pass a budget by the annual July 1 deadline, pay will be suspended for himself, lawmakers and their top aides. This deadline has been missed by state lawmakers the last three years.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican state lawmakers wrapped up three weeks of annual budget hearings by tearing into Governor Tom Wolf’s administration for several hours straight.

 

The crime, as they see it?

 

Making what the GOP alleges is an unconstitutional deal to close this fiscal year’s budget deficit.

 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to figure out a better way to pay for state police.

City of Pittsburgh

A new app lets Pittsburgh residents share their views on the city’s budget. Called “Balancing Act,” the program shows users where in the budget their individual tax dollars go and allows them to make their own spending recommendations.

Wolf Renews Battles On Natural Gas, Minimum Wage In Budget

Feb 6, 2018
Chris Knight / AP

  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's election-year budget plan unveiled Tuesday will renew battles with the Republican-controlled Legislature over imposing a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas and increasing the minimum wage.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf is releasing his fourth budget proposal Tuesday. 

It will lay out his preferences for spending and funding for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The plan—and reception from republicans—isn’t expected to be quite as contentious as in past years, because negotiations are beginning as Wolf and many other state lawmakers are running for reelection, or for higher office.

That’s significant, because the budget impasses that have lately plagued Pennsylvania typically aren’t great for poll numbers. Wolf—and other candidates—stand to gain if everyone agrees.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state judge has allowed a lawsuit over budgeting practices to proceed.

The suit alleges top elected officials have violated the Pennsylvania constitution in the last two years by passing budgets without fully funding them, and borrowing money to pay off a previous year’s debt.

Two years ago, a spending plan passed just after the June deadline, but it took lawmakers weeks to finalize how to pay for it.

The situation reoccurred last year, with the deadlock stretching four months.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will bid farewell to two of its own Tuesday. Council member Natalia Rudiak is stepping down after deciding not to run for a third term, and Council member Dan Gilman is leaving to become chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After several years of shaky finances, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration says Pennsylvania’s fiscal health is now the best it has been since the Great Recession.

In his annual mid-year briefing, Budget Secretary Randy Albright said his office is predicting a roughly $30 million surplus at the end of this fiscal year—enough to start putting some money back into the commonwealth’s long-neglected rainy-day fund.

Matt Rourke / AP

This is the last scheduled session week for state lawmakers this year, and they’re working long days to try and push through several bills that are either time-sensitive, or political priorities.

A few of the measures on the agenda have been a long time coming.

A compromise bill to restore a temporary cash stream to the state unemployment compensation program has been in the works since nearly 500 workers were laid off a year ago over funding concerns.

It has passed the House, and is now on its way through the Senate.

Matt Rourke / AP

Several Republican state senators plan to introduce legislation that would require Pennsylvania to use zero-based budgeting—a standard specifically designed to save money.

Matt Rourke / AP

A judge has issued an injunction that will at least delay state lawmakers from getting some of the money they planned for in the revenue plan they finished last month.

The cash is tied to a pending case about whether the state can constitutionally force the Joint Underwriting Association—a medical malpractice insurer—to give up $200 million.

This is the second year lawmakers have tried to take surplus money from the JUA to help balance perennial budget gaps.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania is already on track to have a significant budget gap to fill next year.

A study from the Independent Fiscal Office shows lawmakers will likely need to come up with about a billion dollars to keep the books balanced.

They only just finished this year’s budget, four months behind schedule.

It was mostly filled with borrowing, expected revenue from a gambling expansion and a number of internal fund transfers.

Much of the money isn’t recurring, and that’s a big reason why the IFO is predicting the state will have to find more cash next year.

Matt Rourke / AP

After a tumultuous budget process that saw state lawmakers pass a plan they couldn’t fully pay for, many are looking into changing how the system works entirely.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald presented his 2018 budget proposal to County Council on Tuesday, totaling $905.7 million, a 2.8 percent growth from the year before.

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.

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.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A few dozen protesters gathered outside of Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai’s McCandless office Tuesday, calling on the Republican representative to balance the budget by taxing natural gas and corporations.

Pine Township resident Linda Bishop led a small group of constituents into the office with a list of concerns. Others representing SEIU unions, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network and Fight for $15, stayed outside chanting for more funding for education and fewer tax cuts to corporations.

Susan Walsh / AP

Somerset County Commission Chair Gerald Walker said when he got a call from the White House saying he and all the other county commissioners in the state would be invited to a July 13 meeting at the White House, he thought it might be a joke.

“You have to wonder if that’s the real deal when you just get a phone call like that out of the blue,” Walker said.

When the printed invitation arrived in the mail a few days later, he knew it was real.

Erika Beras

Grapes are big business in Erie — mostly concord grapes. And they're especially important to the economy of northeast Erie, aka Welch's country. Mario Mazza’s family has run a winery here since the '70s. Back then it was pretty lonely for vintners. But things have changed. In the past decade or so, Mazza said not only has his production gone up, visitation to the taprooms has also climbed.

Bill To Rein In Pennsylvania Pension Benefits On Fast Track

Jun 5, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Most rookie teachers and newly minted Pennsylvania government employees would see a smaller retirement benefit in the coming decades through the state's two big debt-plagued pension systems, under legislation that passed the Senate on Monday and has the backing of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The Republican-controlled Senate's 40-9 vote could be followed by swift House action this week to send the just-unveiled bill to Wolf's desk.

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