It’s old news that the PA legislature hasn’t yet sent a balanced budget to the Governor for his signature. What’s less obvious is how the wheels of state government are still turning with no budget in place.
Last July, Governor Wolf took a risk and let a $32 billion spending bill budget become law. In doing so the state began to release funds for state functions like funding public schools, health care, state parks, state police, health inspections and much more.
The Governor knew the odds of the House passing a revenue bill to fund that spending they’d voted for were low, but no one could have predicted how bad a bet that would turn out to be. Now, 100 days into the fiscal year, the PA House leadership is nowhere to be found, at least not in Harrisburg. And the revenues to pay for what’s already been approved just aren’t there. By September 15th the state will start to spend at a rate that is unsustainable unless the House passes a bill that opens the doors to the $2.2 billion in new revenues and borrowing needed to support already enacted levels of state spending.
No one can predict what the PA House will do. But one thing is certain–the House leaders are extending their summer break to 9/11. What a date to return to work. It will also be the beginning of a four-day clock before the wheels of government begin the slow grind to a halt.
On the 15th, the Governor will either need the state treasurer to secure another loan or he will need to impose budget cuts. Pennsylvania’s newly minted treasurer, Joe Torsella, is taking his job very seriously. He’s already let folks know that he’s not inclined to do anything that would put the tax payers at greater risk than they already are without a balanced budget. So, don’t expect to see him knocking on the banks’ doors for another unbacked line of credit.
What then? The Governor will have no choice but to cut back on state spending on things like: public safety inspections of important things like food and elevators, payments to school districts and county government, funding business and education tax credit programs and critical support for Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln.
All of this because the House and Senate cannot reach an agreement, in spite of being led by the same party. Full bore party infighting isn’t just the root of dysfunction in Washington. The PA Senate Republican Leader said “I find hypocrisy” in the fact that the House Republican leadership passed a spending bill and “now doesn’t want to fund it.”
Those are fighting words.
Party infighting in Washington and Harrisburg is becoming a blood sport. But in D.C. the only blood shed by the infighting is the erosion of the popularity of the fighters. At the state level, where the budget must be balanced, this infighting means that our communities, businesses and kids suffer the injuries directly.
Stay tuned for how you can send a clear message to the PA House and Senate to protect us, not harm us, by passing a responsible revune package that funds the budget.
DEADLINE: MIDNIGHT ON SUNDAY! You could WIN a boy’s or girl’s bike (your choice!) if you purchase a ticket to theBlock By Block Partyby August 27th! All registrants will be entered in a raffle and one lucky winner will be announced August 28. .
“Twenty-six percent poverty rate, 907 people dying of opioid addiction last year in overdoses, our continued police community relations issues and it kind of diverts my attention and our staff’s attention to all this over a piece of metal.” Mayor Jim Kenney, who has asked the City’s Art Commission to hold hearings to decide the fate of a statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo.