Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pa. state budget to become law without full funding


Republicans who control both legislative chambers have rejected the idea of a new natural gas drilling tax and have steadfastly refused to increase either the sales or personal income tax.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today reports:
For the second consecutive year, Gov. Tom Wolf will allow the spending bill the Legislature has sent to him to become law, even though there is no plan for how to pay for it.
Monday’s move once again plunged the state into uncertainty, with questions swirling around whether it is constitutional and whether it will provide more fodder for a crushing credit downgrade for the state.
For his part, the Democratic governor said he believes that, just like last year, the Republican-controlled Legislature will swiftly act to deliver a revenue package to his desk.
“In the coming days, it is my hope that the General Assembly will come together to pass a responsible solution to balance our books,” Mr. Wolf said in a statement. “There are many options available to balance the budget in the long-term, like those I presented earlier this year. Our creditors and the people of Pennsylvania understand a responsible resolution must take real and necessary steps to improve Pennsylvania’s fiscal future.”
What became clear late Monday was that the Legislature would not pass a revenue package to accompany the nearly $32 billion spending bill by the midnight deadline.
“We’re just trying to keep hope alive here and get things done,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said Monday afternoon of trying to reach a deal, even if it can’t be done by the deadline. “… It’s sort of a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour development.”
Both the House and Senate are expected to convene at 11 a.m. Tuesday. But after that session ends, House GOP leaders said they could send members home, possibly for several weeks. In Mr. Wolf’s first year in office, the budget stalemate dragged on for nine months.
Pennsylvania’s constitution requires a balanced budget, but without legislation describing precisely what revenues will prop it up, the spending plan is incomplete.
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