GOP Appropriations chairmen optimistic about on-time budget

GOP Appropriations chairmen optimistic about on-time budget

Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, June 5, 2017/Categories: News and Views

As pension reform legislation is likely to wind up shortly in the legislative rearview mirror, all eyes will soon be turning into work on a state budget, which now only has 24 days remaining until the next fiscal year begins and a budget is set to be in place.


On Monday, The PLS Reporter caught up with House Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) and Senate Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) for an update on where things stand.


According to Rep. Saylor, while no direct face-to-face negotiations have taken place among all five parties, staff has been continuously discussing budget issues and legislators have been meeting individually with each other and the governor.


“Once this week comes to an end, once staff can gel around a few things, I think we will be moving forward with all caucuses and the governor sitting in the same room going over it,” he said.


One sticking point, he said, was not so much on the spending side, but on the revenue side in terms of how lawmakers will approach balancing the budget.


“We are still continuing to analyze that,” he said. “I think the governor and the House—Ds and Rs—and the Senate are pretty close on where we expect revenues to be. Now it’s about formulating exactly how to get the revenues to pay for whatever additional spending we have next year.”


A similar sentiment was echoed by Sen. Browne.


“We have a $1.6 billion hole in the current cycle and a projected revenue capacity to spend about $29.6 billion, so in order for us to advance a document forward next year, it’s going to require us to get together with the appropriate parties…to come up with solutions: both spending reductions or sources of revenue we can close,” he said.


“There are no final details on that, but there’s current conversations going on.”


One bright note, however, is that both chairmen were optimistic about the state budget being delivered on or around the June 30th budget deadline.


“As always I’m optimistic about it because both sides of the building understand the urgency of it,” Sen. Browne said. “But, it’s going to be challenging, and frankly that’s just part of the challenges we have to manage our finances in this cycle.”


Rep. Saylor agreed, saying “I feel like we are on schedule to have a budget done on time, by June 30th.”


“I feel like the governor and all of us are on the same page,” he said. “We know we have a fiscal issue, so the question will be coming down to revenues and how we want to pay for whatever spending we get, but that’s one area we have not really met on.”