Budget framework’s foundation crumbles; next steps continue to evolve

Budget framework’s foundation crumbles; next steps continue to evolve

The budget framework that seemed so close to passing now seems a lot like Elvis: after suffering a very public and unflattering death Saturday after its lynchpin—public pension reform—failed in the House by an overwhelming 52-149 margin, some still think it might be alive.

Public pension reform—as many had suspected—was going to be the deciding factor Saturday as to whether the optimism about a budget being completed in short order was more reality than wishful thinking.

Saturday, December 19, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Budget impasse could maybe, possibly, perhaps be over this weekend

Budget impasse could maybe, possibly, perhaps be over this weekend

Hopes were higher than ever among some at Pennsylvania’s Capitol Friday with the news that Gov. Tom Wolf secured enough votes in both chambers to pass a revenue package that will fund the $30.8 billion budget plan agreed-to as part of the framework announced just before Thanksgiving.

"We are confident we have the votes to pass a revenue package," said Gov. Wolf's press secretary Jeff Sheridan. "We look forward to bringing this impasse to an end so we can fund our schools, balance the budget, begin to fix our deficit and move Pennsylvania forward."

Sheridan could not confirm the number of Republican or Democratic votes in the House—the chamber with the largest question mark in terms of tax increase support—that will be used to get a majority in the chamber.

Friday, December 18, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
PERC on pension reform bill: “This really isn’t a big savings bill, it is a bill that shifts the risk away from the taxpayers”

PERC on pension reform bill: “This really isn’t a big savings bill, it is a bill that shifts the risk away from the taxpayers”

The Capitol’s “will they or won’t they” saga concerning whether the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) would be allowed to attach an actuarial note to the latest iteration of a pension reform proposal came to a conclusion Thursday when the commission did just that in an afternoon meeting.

During the meeting, it was noted that Senate Bill 1082—which was largely amended into Senate Bill 1071 by the House State Government Committee on Tuesday—would save between $1.797 billion and $3.36 billion depending on which version was finally enacted and which factors were used in calculations.

If a drafting error in the legislation is corrected by a proposed amendment, the amount of those savings could decrease by either $630 million or 50 percent depending on how the effect is calculated.

“This really isn’t a big savings bill, it is a bill that shifts the risk away from the taxpayers,” said PERC executive director Jim McAneny of the proposal that would create a side-by-side hybrid pension plan for state and public school employees.

Thursday, December 17, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Pension reform bill gets House “tweaks”

Pension reform bill gets House “tweaks”

Senate legislation that would overhaul Pennsylvania’s state-run pension plans that benefit state and public school employees received the “tweaks” many were anticipating in a Tuesday morning vote by the House State Government Committee.

The legislation was changed to allow all current state employees—not just elected officials—to opt-in to the new side-by-side hybrid pension plan, eliminate the artificial funding collars for FY 2016-2017 the Senate included in the legislation, and require the Public Employee Retirement Commission to attach an actuarial note to the legislation as required by law.

All of the changes were agreed-to unanimously, but committee Democrats uniformly opposed the full measure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
As budget bills advance, big questions still linger

As budget bills advance, big questions still linger

A ray of hope broke through the proverbial clouds of Pennsylvania’s budget impasse Monday as a budget bill from the five-party framework agreement headed to the governor with the passage of the Public Welfare—now Human Services—Code bill.

Another budget bill, the Administrative Code, was sent back to the Senate for them to review changes made by the House.

However, as bills continue to chug along, questions are still lingering for members about questions concerning how the budget is going to be paid for, how budget dollars are going to be distributed to public schools, and even some of the procedure behind how the process will move forward.

Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) was beside himself Monday morning as he emerged early from a closed-door House Republican caucus meeting, where he told a small gathering of reporters that leaders from his caucus are telling members that they’re going to have to accept the $30.8 billion spend number as part of the budget framework.

“We’re just going to accept a $1.2 billion tax increase,” he asked. “We’re not going to push back on it?”

Monday, December 14, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
RSS
First567891011121314Last