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State Budget

2017-18  State Budget

(updated 10/17/17)

Still Incomplete

As of October 17, there is no further action on the revenue side of the state budget. And, as unbelievable as it may seem, it appears that there is only a  very slim chance that any revenue plan will be finalized. To keep the state's finances going, the Governor's Office continues to move forward in efforts to manage state finances to ensure that the impasse will not produce negative consequences for education, human services and other key funding areas. There is a sense in Harrisburg that the 2017-18 budget may NEVER be finalized, and that the governor will continue to utilize funding through the liquor control system and other revenue sources to pay for this year's budget. Whether that can be sustained through June 30 remains to be seen. 

And the biggest concern, beyond whether PA can pay its bills through the end of this fiscal year? A failure to develop a sufficient and stable revenue stream for THIS year's budget in a non-election year is going to make work on the 2018-19 budget in an election year even more problematic. The gubernatorial race and politics are already playing havoc with good policy in 2017-18..

Stay tuned... and follow us on Twitter @PASASupts.

To Recap: On July 10, Gov. Wolf allowed a $32 million budget spending bill to go into effect without his signature,. However, to date, budget negotiators have not yet developed a compromise revenue plan to pay for it. 

During the week of July 17, the House returned to Harrisburg, talked about the House Republican version of a revenue plan - but failed to bring it to the floor for a vote. They then went back into recess. The very next week (the week of July 24), the Senate came back to Harrisburg, brought up the Senate Republican's revenue plan (different from the House version) - and passed it (albeit by a very narrow margin), along with various Code bills related to the budget.

During the week of September 11, House Republicans narrowly passed their own revenue plan. The Senate then voted to non-concur on the House bill and sent it back to the House.

The week of October 2, House Republican leaders developed another revenue plan that focused on one-time borrowing, an increased hotel tax and fund transfers. But the bill never came up for a vote on the House floor, since there were not sufficient Republican votes for the plan. (Democrats have indicated they will not vote for a revenue plan that does not include a shale tax.)

Although the legislature returned to session on October 16, with few remaining session days in October and November, the odds of finalizing a budget plan before the new year are dimming. And there is little chance that lawmakers will return to the issue after the new year. Rather, the sense is that we will have no final budget in 2017-18, and that attention after January 1 will turn to the governor's proposed 2018-19 budget. And none of this will do the Keystone State's bond rating any favors.

On August 31, PASA and PASBO released a joint statement urging an end to the stalemate and a resolution of the budget impasse to avoid negative impacts on school district budgets. CLICK HERE to read the statement.

Completed: The Spending Plan

The  spending bill was a win for education. The $100 million in BEF and $25 million in SEF remained in the budget. Another bright spot is that the $50 million transportation cut recommended by the governor was restored by the legislature.  Also, the Pre-K Counts Program was increased by $25 million, although less than the $65 million requested by the governor. Head Start also was increased by $5 million. 

Impact of Advocacy

This budget is a win for public education in another very difficult budget year. Although the subsidy increases are not enough to offset mandated expenditures for pensions, special education, and charter schools, public education received small increases and was not asked to endure cuts. The final budget results was due, in large part, to your advocacy and the hard work of many other individuals and agencies involved with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. These efforts resulted in increased funding for students and restoring the proposed cuts to transportation. Your voice does matter, and we encourage you to continue to speak out on behalf of public education. 


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