Update 6/10 – Stay tuned for an update on the House and Senate Joint Session where at 12:30 Speaker Turzai will be giving his resignation speech.
Update 5/28 – The general fund budget bill passed the Senate today with a vote of 44-6. Governor Wolf is expected to sign it shortly.
In this year of many firsts, the Pennsylvania State Legislature is poised to pass a budget well-ahead of the June 30 deadline required by law.
It is expected that the Pennsylvania General Assembly will pass a general fund appropriation budget as early as this week and prior to June 1. As Pennsylvania is estimated to be in a $4/5 billion deficit due to the collapsed economy and resulting lack of tax revenue, the first budget bill we will see will only fund a 5-month budget to cover the bare bones of our state’s expenses. However, for basic and higher education, the budget will be a level funded 12 month budget.
The General Assembly will return to the budget after the November elections when hopefully the economy will be in a stronger position. At that time, we anticipate that the legislature will then pass a second budget for the remaining 7 months of the fiscal year.
Following the passage of this first partial budget, the legislature will then turn to addressing the CARES money the State has received. Pennsylvania has received approximately $4.8 billion from the $2 trillion federal cares funding and the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Administration are currently negotiating legislation to determine specifically how this money will be spent to help the very many Pennsylvanians who need it. For instance, among other human service needs, we expect to see monies allocated for intellectual disability and autism service providers. Basic Ed, higher ed and broadband connectivity are few of the examples how money will be distributed.
Governor Wolf, by executive order, has already awarded $51 million of a total $106 million to child care providers throughout Pennsylvania to help cover the costs of personal protective equipment, increased cleaning and other costs childcare providers are facing.
The backdrop for all of this remains challenging as the Republican-controlled House and Senate have repeatedly pushed for more leniency in re-opening the State and the Governor has vetoed bills that do not follow his more cautious re-opening plan and guidelines.
A prime example of this friction occurred recently when the legislature sent a bill to the Governor’s desk that would have allowed real estate sales in the State to resume. The Governor promptly vetoed the bill. However, the Governor did then, shortly thereafter, issue an executive order essentially permitting most of the same real estate practices the bill had described.
It has been announced that all existing red counties in the state will move to the “yellow” phase of re-opening no later than June 5. In addition, the Governor has moved 18 rural counties already to the green phase.
Discussions and negotiations ahead rely on finding common ground and compromises as the best interests concerning safety, livelihoods, and the overall well-being of Pennsylvanians are taken into consideration.
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