**UPDATE: March 23, 2016, 1:45 PM**
Governor Wolf Says: “It’s Time To Move On”
Governor Tom Wolf announced today that he will not sign, veto, or blue line HB 1801, the most recent Budget Bill put on his desk by the Legislature.
By not taking action, the bill will simply become law. Wolf said he will do the same with the State Related Universities’ Appropriation bills that are currently on his desk–he will allow them to become law without his signature. He will, however, veto the Fiscal Code bill.
It’s déjà vu all over again.
We shall soon see if one of Yogi Berra’s most famous lines will once again be applicable in Pennsylvania’s endless budget crisis. For now …
It has been over a month since I last communicated with you regarding the on-going machinations of the current fiscal year budget, which has only 3 ½ months to go! Nothing had occurred until last Tuesday and Wednesday, when the Senate Appropriations Committee moved a budget measure to finally close out the 2015-16 fiscal year.
That funding bill, HB 1801, was then voted out of the Senate with one Democrat (Delaware County Senator A. Dinniman) joining the majority. It then went to the House for concurrence, where it passed with a number of Democratic votes. It now awaits action from Gov. Tom Wolf.
Additionally, appropriations for the state-related Universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple, and Lincoln) were also voted out of the Legislature with the required 2/3 majority of votes (the Pitt vote was 145-45, and included 30 Democrats).
What the Governor will do with the budget bill and the state relateds measures is the real question. He can sign them, allow them to become law by doing nothing, veto them, or blue-line them (meaning he can use line-item veto powers to appropriate some state money).
It is expected that the Governor will soon act on these bills. However, don’t expect the Legislature to deal with the 2015-16 budget, since members of the House and Senate believe they have completed their jobs for the current fiscal year. Instead, Legislators believe their focus should now be on negotiating a budget for the upcoming fiscal year (2016-17), which will have a structural deficit of more than $1.9 billion.
For those looking to obtain funding in the 2015-16 fiscal year, I must sadly say that since there was no tax code involved in this budget process, it just will not happen. The best I can say is this: since there is a budget deficit of close to $2 billion, there may be an effort to raise certain taxes for additional funding, but there is no guarantee.
As soon as we hear what actions the Governor will be take regarding the recently passed budget bill and state relateds appropriations, we will report back to you.