PA Budget Passes Without Funding

PA Capitol 20

The main spending bill in a $32 billion bipartisan budget package is past the Pennsylvania Legislature on the state fiscal year’s final day, although lawmakers don’t know how it’ll all be funded.

The House voted 173-27 on Friday, hours after the Senate voted 43-7. The package was unveiled a day earlier, after being negotiated in secret. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf supports it, but has yet to say whether he’ll sign it if lawmakers can’t figure out a spending plan.

Both chambers recessed until at least Wednesday, and lawmakers say they’ll try next week to find $2 billion-plus to cover the shortfall.

The governor’s office says spending is virtually flat under the package. Counting the amounts above the last approved budget of $31.5 billion, the increase is nearly 3 percent. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to universities is awaiting passage until lawmakers pass a revenue plan.

The spending package won the Pennsylvania Senate’s approval earlier Friday¬†on a 43-7 vote.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf supports it, and lawmakers say they’ll try next week to find $2 billion-plus to cover a two-year projected shortfall.

Senate officials say it holds spending virtually flat. Using the last approved budget of $31.5 billion as a baseline, it authorizes an extra $870 million over two fiscal years above that, including $400 million going on the just-ending fiscal year’s books.

It carries more money for schools, pension obligations and services for the intellectually disabled. It demands belt-tightening across government agencies and in Medicaid, and counts on savings from a shrinking prisons population.

Wolf called it a compromise budget that shows that despite Pennsylvania’s divided government, they “can get things done.” However, he noted their work isn’t done yet.