Tom Wolf

House To Hold Session Amid Swirling Budget Disagreements

3 hours ago
Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives prepared to return to Harrisburg for an unusual weekend session amid a three-week stalemate with the Senate and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf over how to resolve a gaping hole in state government's $32 billion budget plan.

Amid wider disagreements over taxes, gambling and liquor policy, House Republican aides worked Thursday to prepare a no-new-taxes package that would borrow roughly $1.5 billion and raid hundreds of millions of dollars more from off-budget programs.

Senators Return To Capitol, But Budget Deal Remains Elusive

Jul 18, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania senators returned to the Capitol on Monday but with no agreements in sight on the 17th day of a stalemate on elements of the state government's threadbare budget that, by all projections, will lack the tax collections to sustain it for an entire year.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last week let a nearly $32 billion budget bill become law without his signature, even though budget negotiators say it is about $1.5 billion out of balance. Held up in the Legislature are measures to deliver approximately $600 million to Penn State, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln and Penn.

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.

Budget Deadlock Politics Are First Debate In Governor's Race

Jul 17, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Call it the first act of the governor's race.

The slow-motion arc of Pennsylvania's budget negotiations — with a backdrop of a huge deficit, potential credit downgrade and two-week-old deadlock — has served as a sort of first debate stage for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the would-be contenders hoping to contest Wolf's re-election bid next year.

It is an early opportunity to boost their candidacies, and hurt an opponent, in a setting being watched closely by insiders.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The state government isn't doing enough to measure the effectiveness of its addiction treatment programs that can be helpful in the fight against the epidemic of heroin and prescription drug overdoses, auditors said Thursday.

The audit launched last year by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale produced recommendations that three state agencies — the departments of Human Services, Corrections, and Drug and Alcohol Programs — do more to assess whether their addiction treatment programs are successful in curing people. It also warns that more money is needed to fund the effort.

Matt Rourke / AP

After vetoing a similar measure last year, Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign recently passed legislation that substantially changes the Office of State Inspector General.

The office was created in 1987 by Gov. Robert Casey through an executive order. Since then, it has grown to more than 300 employees and bill sponsor Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster County) said it needs to be codified to make sure a future governor does not eliminate the office.

Matt Rourke / AP

Nearly two weeks after the state budget deadline, House and Senate members and Governor Tom Wolf do not have an agreement on a revenue plan to fund for it. 

Wolf let the unbalanced spending plan become law Monday night, a decision that puts Pennsylvania in a sort of constitutional no-man’s-land for the second year in a row.

Around the Capitol there’s no clear consensus on whether the state’s allowed to handle its budget this way—or if there are any consequences for doing so.

PACast

Data from 2016 is still being calculated, but according to Gov. Tom Wolf, the number of drug overdose deaths is continuing to rise in the commonwealth. 

In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, he is encouraging anyone connected with the fight to take a newly created certificate program.

Wolf Says He's Optimistic, Insists He's Doing The 'Right Thing'

Jul 12, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he's optimistic about getting a good budget agreement and that his administration is acting legally in its handling of an unbalanced budget.

Wolf maintained Wednesday that his administration is doing the "right thing" and that an agreement is close. Wednesday is the 12th day of a budget stalemate, and neither Wolf nor top lawmakers are saying when or how talks will resume after negotiations with House GOP leaders collapsed earlier this week.

Matt Rourke / AP

Governor Tom Wolf has allowed an incomplete state budget to become law without his signature after a marathon negotiating session yielded no agreements between his administration and GOP leaders.

Gov. Wolf To Let Unbalanced Spending Bill Become Law

Jul 10, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

*UPDATED: July 10, 2017 at 5:10 p.m. 

For the second straight year, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will let a state budget bill become law despite the fact that it is badly out of balance as he presses Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature to approve a tax package big enough to avoid a credit downgrade.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Lawmakers are still struggling to reach consensus on how to pay for the state budget. One of the most likely ways they’ll get money to fill a more than $2 billion hole is by borrowing against a state fund created by a 1998 multi-state settlement with tobacco companies.

But the American Lung Association is up in arms against the proposal—saying it’ll probably divert vital resources away from state anti-smoking programs.

Govenor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The clock is ticking for Pennsylvania lawmakers to find more than $2 billion to balance the state's budget. No agreements were reported Monday, three days after .

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

The last month of the fiscal year was a decent one for Pennsylvania, revenue-wise, with returns coming in slightly higher than expected. But it comes at the end of a year of unexpectedly dismal earnings.

The commonwealth ended 2016-17 with its revenues over a billion dollars below projections. Its expectations for the new fiscal year are more modest.

Pennsylvania Is Not Alone: 11 U.S. States Haven't Passed Their Budgets

Jul 3, 2017
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The clock is ticking for Pennsylvania lawmakers to find more than $2 billion to balance the state's budget.

No agreements were reported Monday, three days after lawmakers sent the main appropriations bill in a $32 billion budget package to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's desk.

On Friday, Wolf called the spending plan "a start."

"There is still work to do," he said. "We need a sustainable revenue package that gets Pennsylvania on track. For too many years, Pennsylvania has lurched from crisis to crisis."

PA May Make It Easier For Non-Violent Criminals To Get A Fresh Start

Jul 2, 2017
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

2004 was a tough year for Ronald.

In less than a month, he was arrested twice — once for theft and once for conspiracy.

Pennsylvania Picks Medical Marijuana Program Dispensaries

Jun 29, 2017
Haven Daley / AP

Medical marijuana patients will be able to obtain the drug from 52 locations that have just been issued permits by the Pennsylvania government.

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

Some lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf took a break from budget negotiations Wednesday to sign a high-profile package of bills into law.

They significantly overhauled the commonwealth’s animal rights legislation, and included a measure that has brought a lot of attention to the issue in the past year: Libre’s Law.

The bill signing saw more fanfare—and barking—than most.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

During a special Pittsburgh City Council meeting Tuesday, public safety officials called on Gov. Tom Wolf to sign legislation that would allow officers more latitude in using their body cameras.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

State lawmakers have made no secret of the fact that next fiscal year’s state budget, which is due Friday, will be a hard one to enact.

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Gov. Tom Wolf's health secretary is taking a new administrative job with central Pennsylvania health giant Geisinger.

The Danville-based company, which has some 30,000 employees, said Tuesday that Karen Murphy will start in September as executive vice president, chief innovation officer and founding director of an innovation institute.

She's previously been director of an initiative at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and president of Moses Taylor Health Care System in Scranton.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are returning to the Capitol with five days to pass an on-time budget and no firm agreement on how to address state government's biggest cash shortfall since the recession.

Leaders of the House and Senate GOP majorities were expected to brief rank-and-file Republicans on Monday after spending the weekend in closed-door negotiations.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

As GOP leaders search high and low for more than $2 billion to patch the commonwealth’s budget gaps, one state senator is trying to tempt his colleagues with revenue projections from one of his longtime pet issues—recreational marijuana.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Republican majority leaders of Pennsylvania’s House and Senate say they’re determined to put together a budget without raising taxes.

That means making up this year’s $1.5 billion shortfall, plus accounting for a roughly $3 billion structural deficit.

To get it done, the final plan is likely to involve significant borrowing.

One option under consideration would involve using an asset as collateral to get a loan, which would be paid off over 25 years or so.

Matt Rourke / AP

According to Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, he and other Democrats haven’t so far been party to many of the budget negotiations that are heating up in the Capitol.

Kris Hart

If there's a checklist for starting a political campaign, one item would have to be, "Am I qualified to run?"

Businessman Kris Hart planned to announce his candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, Thursday, but quickly changed his plans after he learned — from me, I'm afraid — that he didn't meet the state residency requirement to serve as governor.

Zeevveez / Flickr

A contentious bill to prohibit municipalities from taxing or banning plastic bags has passed the legislature, and now faces a potential veto at the hands of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

Several manufacturers of the plastic used for disposable shopping bags are based around Pennsylvania, and employ over a thousand people. The Republican sponsors of the bill say that’s the main reason they’re supporting it.

Gov. Tom Wolf / 90.5 WESA

With a little over two weeks until the state budget is due, House and Senate Republicans have been holding closed meetings to hash out details.

Few concrete plans are available, but GOP leaders say they’re on roughly the same page on spending.

A few months ago House Republicans released their budget proposal, which would spend about $800 million less than Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s blueprint and not raise taxes.

The Senate’s GOP majority hasn’t released its own plan yet, and it’s unclear if they will.

Rusty Blazenhoff

Governor Tom Wolf said Thursday that Pennsylvania doesn’t need the federal government interfering with the state’s developing medical marijuana program.

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