Joe Torsella

Mel Evans / AP

 State Treasurer Joe Torsella has decided to authorize a five-day, $700 million loan to keep Pennsylvania from missing Medicaid payments while its general fund runs low.

The move is politically fraught.

For two months, Torsella, a Democrat, refused to lend money until the legislature passed a plan that would balance the state's finances.

Now, Governor Tom Wolf is taking unilateral steps to try and bring the three-months-late budget in line. But critics of Torsella and Wolf say not enough has actually changed to justify the shift in position.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania Treasury is extending a five-day, $700 million credit line to tide over the state government's deficit-ridden finances.

Matt Rourke / AP

State Treasurer Joe Torsella has found himself at the center of contentious battles over funding Pennsylvania’s unbalanced budget and paying the commonwealth’s bills.

Last month, Torsella decided he wouldn’t loan money to cover short-term expenses until the budget is done. The state has since had to delay some payments

He maintains his decision was responsible.

Matt Rourke / AP

As Pennsylvania lawmakers fight over the details of a long-overdue budget funding plan, the commonwealth is having trouble covering short-term costs.

Pennsylvania Takes Credit Ratings Hit Amid Budget Fight

Sep 20, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's credit rating took its latest hit Wednesday, another black eye in a nearly three-month budget stalemate that has pitted Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Senate against the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's lowered its rating on Pennsylvania's debt, citing the state's stubborn post-recession deficit and its history of late budgets, as well as Standard and Poor's belief that the pattern could continue.

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.

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.

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.

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."

Treasurer: Pennsylvania Could Run Out Of Cash

Jul 18, 2017
AP file photo

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella is warning that state might be unable to pay all its bills in a matter of weeks if the budget standoff in Harrisburg isn't resolved.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State budgets have two basic parts: one outlines how much government will spend on its programs and expenses, and the other details where lawmakers are getting the money to pay for it.

Last year, the GOP-controlled legislature compromised on a $31.5 billion spending plan, and then took two more weeks to come up with a revenue framework to fit it.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf let it become law without his signature, declaring at the time that “our budget is balanced this year, and we have greatly reduced the commonwealth’s structural budget deficit.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf and state Treasurer Joe Torsella say they have a way to cut down on Pennsylvania’s mountainous pension costs: change investment strategies to cut down on fees to outside money managers.

Spokespeople for the state’s two biggest pension funds say they’re open to considering the idea, though they note, they’ve already been doing it to some extent.

The fees Pennsylvania pays to outside investors are among the highest in the country. In 2015, they made up almost $600 million of the money spent by the systems for retired state and public school employees.

Chris Knight / AP

State lawmakers are making progress on next year's budget three months before their June 30 deadline.

But it's still a legislature prone to deadlock, so state Treasurer Joe Torsella is making preparations for a potential impasse.

Most of the time when Harrisburg misses its budget deadline, it's not a serious issue. A majority of state services can keep running for a time on the budget from the previous fiscal year.

But if lawmakers miss the deadline by a lot, questions arise. Namely, can the treasury keep paying out public money to the branches of government?

Matt Slocum (L), Mel Evans (R) / AP

Two of Pennsylvania’s top elected office holders used their first few days in office to address ethics-related issues by asking employees to sign pledges.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro distributed his code of conduct to every employee and he said they all voluntarily signed the document.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

 

Treasurer

 

Democrat Joe Torsella will be taking over an office marred by scandal after winning the race for Pennsylvania treasurer.

Torsella, of Montgomery County, beat Republican businessman Otto Voit of Berks County in Tuesday's election.

The 53-year-old Torsella was most recently a presidential appointee to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.