Budget Stalemate

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.

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.

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.

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.

David Amsler / Flickr

 

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf isn't saying whether he'll sign a budget bill sent to him by the Senate in a last-ditch bid to break a six-month stalemate before Christmas and get money flowing to schools and social service agencies.

Rift Deepens Between House And Senate

Dec 9, 2015
Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Republicans in the state House and Senate remain at odds over how to resolve the state’s five-month-long budget impasse. 

House GOP Tries Again To Resolve Standoff With Own Budget

Dec 8, 2015
David Amsler / Flickr

 

Pennsylvania House Republicans tried again to solve the state's 5-month-old budget stalemate with a spending plan of their own on Tuesday, a day after a bipartisan Senate vote that approved a rival approach supported by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Flickr user Raquel Camargo

As state legislators in Harrisburg continue to wrestle with a framework budget proposal, rumors are surfacing that a sales tax on admission to arts and cultural institutions could be on the table.

Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny), minority chair of the House Finance Committee said nothing is “set in stone,” but the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is asking supporters to “act swiftly and with unity” according to an email.

PA Budget Stalemate Won’t Disrupt Hunting Season

Nov 30, 2015
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  Let the record show that Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) thinks lawmakers should be in on Monday, but he knows he’d probably be overruled.

“In Pennsylvania, it’s a big deal to have a session day on a hunting season day – first day of buck season,” Bloom said Tuesday as his colleagues filed past him on their way back from the House floor.

The state budget is nearly a full five months late, and state lawmakers say they’ll return after Thanksgiving to work until they have a deal – but they won’t be back bright and early Monday morning.

School Officials Lobby To Keep Taxing Abilities

Nov 16, 2015
Mary Wilson / WHYY

Tiny preschoolers and K-12 school students took Monday off to join school board members and exasperated parents calling for an end to the state budget impasse, as Gov. Tom Wolf signaled a budget deal wouldn’t be ready before December. 

Members of the advocacy coalition known as Campaign for Fair Education Funding fanned out throughout the Capitol building to meet individually with their lawmakers and ask for a finalized state budget.

Screengrab / Twitter

As the state budget impasse continues, organizations that provide assistance to those in need across Pennsylvania are going into debt to cover costs.

Victim Outreach Intervention Center (VOICe) is one of those. The Butler County organization provides services to individuals and families who are survivors of sexual, domestic and other types of violence. Executive Director Heidi Artman said the organization relies heavily on state funding and she sums up the last few months as such.

PA Budget Scaffolding Is Set, But Swaying

Nov 11, 2015
Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Legislative aides are beginning to hammer out the details of a state budget, now that top lawmakers and the governor have agreed on the general shape of the plan.  

The sprawling, tentative package includes a 1.25 percent hike in the state sales tax, a reduction in state retirement benefits for future hires and some kind of change to the state liquor stores.

The deal promises to be unwieldy.

Heroin Overdose Reversal Drug To Be Available Across PA

Oct 28, 2015
Matt Rourke / AP Images

Citing an ongoing heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania, Gov. Wolf issued a standing order to make the heroin overdose reversal drug naloxone available at all pharmacies in the state.

According to the state Department of Health, 2400 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses in 2014.

“We must do all that we can to support those Pennsylvania families suffering from the effects of addiction,” the governor said.  

Wold told Essential Pittsburgh that he previously issued measures to prevent heroin-related deaths, and said those measures were successful.

The Associated Press

Pennsylvania school districts are more concerned with “how much” than “when” regarding passage of a fiscal budget and any new state appropriation they might receive.

“In general, initially, if a budget does not pass by June 30, districts won’t find themselves in dire situations,” said Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.