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
Latest budget deadline passes with little fanfare, leaves many questions

Latest budget deadline passes with little fanfare, leaves many questions

The deadline set by House Republican leaders for 12:30 p.m. on Thursday for Gov. Tom Wolf to prove to them he has the votes to get the revenue for the $30.788 billion budget agreed-to as part of the five-party budget framework came and went without much fanfare, but many House members were left with questions about what the final revenue package would entail.

Despite the stern message sent by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) Wednesday night that if the governor did not come up with the votes the legislature would move forward with some sort of a stopgap budget, the Wolf administration Thursday morning said they were not fazed.

“It’s not something we’re taking seriously,” said Wolf administration spokesperson Jeff Sheridan of what he called an “artificial” deadline.

Reached later in the day, Sheridan said the governor had not met with House Republican leaders as of late afternoon Thursday and he is still meeting with rank-and-file members.

Thursday, December 17, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Dueling budget bills now moving through the General Assembly

Dueling budget bills now moving through the General Assembly

Adding fresh fuel to Pennsylvania’s 160-day budget impasse, the Senate Monday sent the House a $30.8 billion budget that reflects the budget framework agreement all sides seemed to be moving to just a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee moved along a $30.2 billion spending plan that was said to reflect “the art of the possible” in that chamber.

Starting in the Senate, Senate Bill 1073 passed with relatively little debate by a 43-7 vote.

The bill was acknowledged on both sides as being an imperfect compromise.

Monday, December 7, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Budget deal still on…for now?

Budget deal still on…for now?

Pennsylvania’s Capitol was a den of confusion Friday swirling with rumors, innuendo, and speculation of every degree as to what—if anything—would happen with the budget framework that has limped along in discussions since just before Thanksgiving.

After a day of long intra-caucus discussions for Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and House Republicans, it appears as though all parties are still moving toward an eventual budget resolution and the plan has—as of yet—not completely imploded.

House Republicans met for about three hours Friday afternoon in an attempt to test the waters on a number of different revenue options, including a slate of sales tax exemptions that may be eliminated.

“I think every revenue generator that came up, members of the caucus formed their opinion and made them known very constructively,” said Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery) after House Republicans had their discussion on revenue options and other budget related matters. “I don’t think there was any flashpoint in this caucus at all. I think it was a very positive thing."

Friday, December 4, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Stop-gap budget chugs along in House

Stop-gap budget chugs along in House

With its ultimate fate already widely known, a temporary funding measure continued to move through the General Assembly Monday as it passed along party lines out of the House Appropriations Committee.

There, familiar arguments met the spending bill and related legislation that tore through the Senate last week.

House Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny) said during Monday’s committee meeting that the passage of the legislation would take away the pressure currently facing legislators to get a budget done, which is being brought by public schools and social service agencies who are lacking critical state funding.

“It buys us a little bit of time, but it really doesn’t solve the budget problem,” he said. “What we are doing here today is essentially using precious time…to go through an exercise that is essentially meaningless.”

Monday, September 21, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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