Individuals who closely monitor Pennsylvania legislative activities recently witnessed the PA House of Representatives quickly move a 2017/18 General Fund budget bill (HB 218) out of the chamber and on to the Senate by a vote of 114-84. The $31.52 billion dollar budget blueprint for the State’s next fiscal year does not increase any taxes, but does cut a number of programs that many in the Legislature support.
There are some winners and many losers. Basic Education and Pre-K received increases and other programs throughout the budget (i.e. Higher Education) have not been decreased. Many programs have been flat out redlined!
Now, before panicking, I respectfully ask you to stop, take a breath, and exhale because this Budget Bill is ONLY the beginning of the budget process. A perfect sports analogy is to compare this to the 1st inning of a 9 or maybe 10 inning baseball game, so there are still plenty of innings left as we move towards the June 30th budget deadline.
The recent action of the House Republicans was to show that a balanced budget can be constructed without increasing taxes. As I stated above, many of the programs that were cut actually have legislators that support their funding. Thus, a number of legislators who voted to pass the House budget bill with cuts to programs they support realize that the line items that were decreased will, may likely, be adjusted more favorably during the remaining months of budget negotiations.
In conversations with several clients, I have been asked: “What can we do now?”
My answer is this: Connect with your local legislator(s) on how your respective program(s) produce positive results for their district/region in the State. Conversations with your legislators must reinforce the benefits that your programs bring to the legislative districts and regions in the State.
So, again, stay calm and just remember, there are many innings left in this game we call the State Budget!!!!