Pennsylvania Budget

Jeff Roberson / AP

Pennsylvania is going to borrow against its Tobacco Settlement Fund to fill in last year’s deficit and finish this year’s budget

The Wolf administration confirmed Tuesday that it will tap into the stream of money states have received from tobacco companies since the 1990s.

The borrowing will give the commonwealth money to balance its books up front, and will then be paid back over several decades.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved the plan Tuesday. However, Budget Secretary Randy Albright noted that it’s not finalized yet.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State lawmakers are running into legal issues over a component of the budget plan they passed last month.

Some $200 million of the plan is slated to be appropriated from a group that insures healthcare providers against malpractice claims.

However, the group has sued to keep that money.

The state established the Joint Underwriting Association in the 1970s, so lawmakers say they have the authority to appropriate its funds as needed.

But the JUA contends its money are private, because it comes from investments and premiums from policyholders.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that the Treasury is loaning money to cover the commonwealth’s short-term expenses—including upcoming payments to public schools.

That was news to Treasurer Joe Torsella, who said the loan still isn’t authorized and won’t be until Wolf provides more details on how he plans to balance the state budget.

The loan in question has been a point of political tension.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State lawmakers are grappling with the implications of Governor Tom Wolf’s unexpected decision to balance part of the state budget himself by borrowing against the liquor industry.

House and Senate members are currently trying to figure out whether Wolf’s allowed to do that. And meanwhile, the commonwealth’s short-term cash-flow issues still aren’t resolved.

House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said while most of his caucus prefers borrowing $1.2 billion against Liquor Control Board profits over tax increases, they’re still not sold on the idea.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Days after negotiations to balance Pennsylvania’s late budget collapsed completely, lawmakers, the governor, and their staffers are still trading barbs over social media—and in more formal ways, too.

Nearly 80 House Republicans have signed a petition demanding Wolf issue approval letters to businesses for tax credits that go toward scholarships. The money is past-due under state law.

Both the Republicans and Democratic Wolf administration blame the problem on budget discord.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In the midst of this week’s budget negotiation meltdown, House Republicans have managed to slide a piece of priority legislation through their chamber and on to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s desk.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The latest push to finish Pennsylvania’s late, unbalanced budget has melted down.

After several false starts, talks between House Democrats and Republicans dissolved into fights Wednesday over who’s at fault for the chamber’s inability to find consensus on a tax package.

Daveynin / Flickr

After extensive closed negotiations, a House committee moved a plan to close part of the $2.2 billion gap in Pennsylvania’s overdue budget Tuesday evening.

Matt Rourke / AP

After a week of closed talks between legislative leaders and Governor Tom Wolf, the House and Senate are back in session together for the first time in months.

Leaders say they have a loose budget structure to work from now, though no one has officially agreed to anything.

The House hasn’t yet held official discussions with members about the framework, but the Senate did Monday afternoon.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

GOP leaders say they’re optimistic they’ll have some kind of budget framework to present to members this week.

The House and Senate are both scheduled to convene Monday.

The potential deal comes after a week of closed negotiations between chamber leaders, as well as at least one rare in-person meeting with Governor Tom Wolf.

It’s unclear when or if major votes will happen.

But in a memo sent to GOP members, House Leader Dave Reed said it “might be a good idea to pack for a long week.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A spokesman for Pennsylvania House Republicans says recent talks to resolve the state's three-month-old budget stalemate have been productive, and there could be a breakthrough next week.

Caucus spokesman Steve Miskin said Thursday that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's engagement has been helpful.

He says details are still being worked out, but House GOP leaders hope to have a plan to present to their members next week.

The state Senate is also coming back to session in Harrisburg on Monday, another promising sign.

Keith Srakocic / AP

While Harrisburg is mired in balancing its overdue budget, employees in the state’s Unemployment Compensation program are getting concerned that a planned fix to their funding won’t come on time.

Hundreds of UC employees were laid off last year ago after funding wasn’t renewed over fears the program was ill-managed and cost too much.

It caused mass delays for people trying to claim unemployment benefits.

Matt Rourke / AP

As Pennsylvania contends with a months-late budget and recently-downgraded bond rating, it’s also working hard to entice Amazon to set up a secondary headquarters in one of its cities.

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 Loses Billions Under GOP Bill, Analysts Say

Sep 22, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Independent analysts say Pennsylvania would be one of the hardest-hit states under Senate legislation that would take federal health care subsidies provided under President Barack Obama's 2010 law and redistribute it among states.

On Friday, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf urged Pennsylvania's U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to reject the bill that's scheduled for a vote next week. Analysts including the Kaiser Family Foundation and Avalere Health say Pennsylvania would lose billions of federal health care dollars, while some other states would get billions in new federal dollars.

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

Senators are trying to figure out how to move forward on the stalled state budget.

They’re planning to formally vote against a conservative House funding plan Wednesday in hopes of kick-starting an expedited process known as a conference committee.

However, there’s no guarantee that will happen.

After receiving it last week, Senate leaders quickly made it clear they don’t support a House proposal that would close the $2.2 billion budget gap primarily with one-time fund transfers instead of taxes.

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.

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.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Congress is back in session, and they have less than two weeks of legislative days to solve a slew of problems. By the end of the month, Congress needs to: 

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.

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