Budget Impasse News
Gov. Tom Wolf: Good news from Harrisburg
Post-Gazette, July 15, 2016
The timely passage of a strong budget bodes well for Pa.
Wolf, Pa. lawmakers strike budget deal
Post-Gazette, July 13, 2016
Taxes on tobacco and digital downloads and changes in gaming and wine sales will pay for $31.5 billion spending plan.
Legislators closing in on budget-funding plan
Post-Gazette, July 13, 2016
If a deal cannot be reached by tonight, rank-and-file legislators may be dismissed and “put us off a steep cliff.”
Despite $1.3 billion gap, Pennsylvania lawmakers to let budget become law
Post-Gazette, July 12, 2016
Legislators recessed Monday without a deal on how to pay for the $31.5 billion budget, extending the uncertainty amid signs of impact on the state’s credit rating and new legal challenges. Passed by legislators but neither signed nor vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf, the unbalanced spending plan was to lapse into law at 12:01 a.m. today.
After Impasse Drained Resources, PA Schools Desperate For Budget
90.5 WESA, July 7, 2016
With little news of progress on the 2017 state budget coming out of Harrisburg, school advocates around the state are crossing their fingers a resolution comes soon. If not, Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association said state-funded institutions will be in bad shape come fall.
The $31.5 billion question: How will the state pay for its budget?
Post-Gazette, July 6, 2016
After failing to enact a state budget on time, Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature now find themselves working against a new deadline. The two sides have until midnight Monday to reach consensus on how to pay for the $31.5 billion spending plan lawmakers sent Mr. Wolf last week.
State budget bill headed to governor's desk, but still no agreement on how to pay for it
Post-Gazette, July 1, 2016
With hours to spare before the start of the new fiscal year, the Republican-controlled Legislature gave its final sign-off to a $31.5 billion spending plan that Gov. Tom Wolf said he can support. That was the good news for those aiming for an on-time budget. The bad news for all sides is that there still is no agreement on how to pay for the plan, which calls for increasing funding for public schools, early childhood and special education and state colleges and universities.
Legislature OKs state budget; critics say it's not balanced
Tribune-Review, June 30, 2016
“It's really important to have an on-time budget that invests in services in the state,” said Samantha Balbier, executive director of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership. Human services will not receive increases, but at least nonprofit agencies know the outcome and can move forward, she said. Kate Dewey of the Forbes Fund, the nonprofit arm of the Pittsburgh Foundation, called an on-time budget “extraordinarily important.” “Last year created such havoc,” she said. “It really took agility to navigate the nine-month budget impasse.” It would take millions of dollars to make human service providers whole from last year, she said.
Senate passes state budget, but sources of funding still murky
Post-Gazette, June 30, 2016
The Republican-controlled Legislature appears determined to beat the clock and send Gov. Tom Wolf a budget before the start of the new fiscal year. Less than 24 hours after the House passed a $31.5 billion spending plan, the Senate on Wednesday tweaked the proposal and swiftly passed it in a 47-3 floor vote. The measure won the vote of every Democrat — a strong signal that it has tacit support from the Democratic governor.
Pennsylvania House OKs budget; battle remains over how to pay for it
June 29, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $31.5 billion budget with heavy support from both Republicans and Democrats — but a stubborn behind-the-scenes fight remains over how to pay for it. The plan passed by the GOP-dominated House in a 132-68 vote would spend about 5 percent more than this year’s $30 billion budget, and send an additional $200 million for K-12 public education, as well as additional money for preschool and special education.
House passes $31.6M budget, gambling bills
June 29, 2016, Times Tribune
House lawmakers approved a $31.6 billion state budget and related gambling expansion legislation by bipartisan votes Tuesday. The House-developed budget bill, passed 132-68 and was sent to the Senate, would boost state spending for basic education by $200 million and fund three new classes of state police cadets, among many other items.
Wolf won't endorse House budget plan, says it's not balanced
June 29, 2016, The Villages Suntimes
While the state House approved a $31.6 billion appropriations budget in a 132-68 vote on Tuesday, southwest Pennsylvania legislators were anything but united, regardless of party affiliations. Further, he suggested that a tax package underpinning the spending plan - including tax increases on the sale of cigarettes and various other tobacco products - would not be made public until a broader agreement on spending had been reached between House and Senate Republicans and Democrats. He said he hoped the Senate would fix the flaws, should it pass the House.
Pennsylvania House Passes Budget, Bill Heads to Senate
June 28, 2016, Erie News Now
It looks as if state lawmakers may pass a budget on-time after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the spending plan by a vote of 132 to 68 just after 6 p.m. Tuesday. Rep. Brad Roae, (R) 6th legislative district, was the only lawmaker from our region to vote against the plan. If it goes on to pass the Pennsylvania Senate, it would be a major turnaround from last year. That is when it took nine extra months of wrangling to finish a spending plan.
Budget bill clears House committee, but obstacles abound
Post-Gazette, June 28, 2016
There may soon be a budget bill, but there is no budget deal. The proposal that cleared the House Appropriations Committee on Monday night calls for the state to spend about 5 percent more next year than it did under this year's $30 billion budget. The boost in spending would be propped up by legalizing online gambling, loosening the state’s monopoly over the sale of wine, imposing new taxes on tobacco and instituting a tax amnesty program. But neither the Republican-dominated Senate nor the administration of the Democratic governor has committed to support it.
State budget talks inch closer to an agreement; 'the last mile is the hardest mile to get to'
PennLive, June 27, 2016
A 2016-17 state budget agreement remained a work in progress going into Monday although legislative leaders hinted a conclusion could come soon. House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders met twice on Sunday evening, both times coming out suggesting that movement toward a tentative deal was being made.
Service agency advocates rally in Greensburg for on-time passage of state budget
Tribune-Review, June 22, 2016
As signs throughout the crowd of about 200 pointed out, passage of last year's state budget was delayed by 267 days, causing funding problems for municipalities, schools and social service programs.
Gov. Wolf will not seek income, sales tax hikes
Post-Gazette, June 22, 2016
In a shift that could ease the path to a budget deal, Gov. Wolf said Tuesday that he will no longer seek a hike in the state’s personal income or sales tax to raise new revenue. Instead, the governor told a Pittsburgh radio station, he believes he can achieve his priorities without raising the two taxes that hit Pennsylvanians the hardest in their wallets.
Related: Ahead of budget deadline, Wolf scales back education funding ask, NewsWorks, June 22, 2016
Study: Preschool teachers make near-poverty wages in Pa.
Philly.com, June 18, 2016
Nationwide in 2015, the median annual wage for preschool teachers was $28,570 - about 55 percent of what elementary teachers were paid, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. For a child-care teacher, it was even lower, around $20,320. The report also listed Pennsylvania preschool teachers, excluding special education, in the lowest bracket for annual median pay, earning $21,930 to $23,890. Median annual wages for child-care teachers was $19,590.
Mapping: How Pa.'s new school funding formula measures district need
NewsWorks, June 13, 2016
Pennsylvania's new education funding formula acknowledges that 74 school districts across the commonwealth face burdens so high, that it's as if they must serve more than double their actual student populations.
Another state budget impasse would devastate social services: here are three ways to protect them
Philly.com, June 10, 2016
For more than nine months, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania operated without a budget. The budget impasse left many health and human services nonprofit organizations financially vulnerable, with some forced to use extreme measures to continue operating, including drastically reducing crucial services for those in need. While Pennsylvania nonprofits employ more than 13.3% of the Commonwealth’s workforce, some nonprofits were forced to lay-off critical staff and reduce staff time during the impasse.
Wolf delaying lawmakers' 2015 grants as budget deadline looms
Tribune-Review, June 9, 2016
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's top aides told Senate Republican leaders he won't release economic development grants approved by lawmakers until he gets a state spending plan he favors, a Senate GOP spokeswoman said. Rep. Seth Grove, R-York County, said Wolf is doing so for “political leverage.”
Everything you wanted to know about Pennsylvania’s new education formula
NewsWorks, June 9, 2016
Most advocates call this a major step forward — as the state had been one of only three in the nation lacking a student-weighted formula. By counting actual enrollment shifts and acknowledging that some districts must spend more to educate their children, the formula adds predictability to a system that's often been swayed by the political powers of the moment.
Survey of Pa. school officials predicts widespread staff cuts and property tax hikes
NewsWorks, June 6, 2016
A survey of Pennsylvania superintendents and school business officials offers a bleak portrait of the state of education in the commonwealth. With mandated costs growing faster than revenues, districts across the state report that they are planning to cut staff, increase class sizes, and curtail programs and extracurriculars — all while hiking local property taxes.
It’s back! Deadline looms for new state budget
Post-Gazette, June 6, 2016
In the Capitol, the word hope is heard often these days. Hope that this year’s budget talks will be less divisive. Hope that an impasse like the one that made history during Gov. Tom Wolf’s first year can be avoided. Even hope that a budget can be signed by the July 1 deadline.
Governor Wolf won't predict whether state will avoid another budget fiasco
Tribune-Review, June 6, 2016
Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to work Monday in Harrisburg with weeks left to avert a repeat of last year's budget fiasco, a process that was not resolved until Gov. Tom Wolf let budget legislation become law without his signature in March and April.
Westmoreland County officials plan rally to avert repeat of budget impasse
Tribune-Review, June 2, 2016
Westmoreland County officials concerned about a repeat of an eight-month state budget stalemate plan a rally to show the General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf the importance of passing the 2016-17 budget by the June 30 deadline. “We wanted to make sure our voices are heard” in Harrisburg, said Dirk Matson, the county's human services director.
Pennsylvania adopts new education funding formula
Tribune-Review, June 2, 2016
The formula — something lawmakers have squabbled over for years — will determine how the state divvies up about $5.5 billion in basic education funding each year, taking into account such factors as the number of students in poverty, the district's wealth and ability to raise revenue and the number of students who speak English or attend charter schools.
As another Pa. budget deadline looms, nonprofits hope it won’t be déjà vu
NewsWorks, June 1, 2016
Lawmakers have until the end of the month to pass a budget. In the run-up to that deadline, nonprofits across the state are taking stock of the shock waves they still feel from last year's nine-month budget impasse. A new survey says nonprofit organizations that carry out social services in Pennsylvania still owe interest from loans taken out during a protracted state government budget stalemate. The survey released last week comes from the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, the United Way of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
Survey: Pennsylvania budget impasse cost nonprofits thousands
Post-Gazette, May 31, 2016
A new survey illustrates just how hard-hit Pennsylvania nonprofits were by the budget impasse. Among the findings: 45 organizations will need to pay back a collective total of $532,000 in interest, and the equivalent of more than 380 full-time employees were laid off, furloughed or had their hours, pay or benefits eliminated or reduced, according to the survey, which was jointly conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the United Way of Pennsylvania and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership.
Dozens of Pa. school districts face tougher time borrowing after budget impasse
Keystone Crossroads, May 30, 2016
In December, as lawmakers entered a sixth month without a state budget, S&P Global withdrew its rating of Pennsylvania's "intercept" program, through which the state guarantees loans for school districts that don't have high credit ratings. Through the program, if a district says it cannot meet its loan obligations, the state promises to pay the lender out of the pot of cash the district is set to receive from the Department of Education.
In Pennsylvania legislature, bills have a tendency to stall
Post-Gazette, May 31, 2016
With 253 members, Pennsylvania boasts one of the largest full-time legislatures in the nation — and although its members keep busy churning out legislation, few of those bills actually become law.
Views on 'equity' clash in new Pa. school funding formula
NewsWorks, May 27, 2016
Education advocates across Pennsylvania are celebrating the fact that the state is about to commit to a new student weighted formula for distributing state aid. But not everyone is happy.
Pa. lawmakers hope to avoid another budget impasse
Erie Times-News, May 22, 2016
Passage of the 2015-16 budget was nine months late because legislators and the Wolf administration could not agree on how to balance the budget, increase funding for education and eliminate the state's structural deficit, which some estimates have put at nearly $2 billion. The initiatives Wolf offered, like raising taxes to increase education spending, were met with harsh resistance by Republicans. They favored reforming the state's public pension system and privatizing Pennsylvania's liquor stores as ways to cut long-term costs and generate new revenue. Those ideas are back on the table this year for the 2016-17 budget, and it is not yet clear where there might be room for compromise.
Turzai target of dissent in North Hills
Post-Gazette, May 22, 2016
You don’t often find the phrases “North Hills” and “hotbed of dissent” in the same sentence. But even in Allegheny County’s most prosperous communities, this has been a season of discontent.
Report says Pa. higher ed funding has been cut 33% in past 8 years
WITF, May 19, 2016
Pennsylvania has seen one of the nation's largest reductions in state funding for public colleges and universities since the start of the recession.
Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes new rules for teacher layoffs in Pennsylvania
Pennlive.com, May 18, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf made good Wednesday on his threat to veto legislation that would stop public school districts from making teacher layoffs based on seniority. The bill has, and may continue to be, a policy priority for House and Senate Republicans, who mounted a major public relations effort over the last two weeks to try to get the Democratic governor to change his mind. Under their proposal, seniority levels would be replaced with recent teacher evaluation ratings as the first priority by which school administrators assign furloughs in the event of budget-based staffing cuts.
GOP leaders to Wolf: Vetoing teacher furlough reform bill ensures it will be part of budget talks
PennLive, May 17, 2016
While not drawing a line in the sand over it in upcoming state budget talks, House and Senate GOP leaders made it clear that a teacher furlough reform is going to be part of those negotiations if Gov. Tom Wolf vetoes a bill that accomplishes that as he has threatened.
Study calls for at least $3.2 billion in added Pa. school funding
NewsWorks, May 17, 2016
The advocacy group Public Interest Law Center says the commonwealth's own data point to the need for at least $3.2 billion in added state funding.
Ideas Worth Stealing: Move Pennsylvania’s Capital out of Harrisburg and back to Philadelphia (or to Pittsburgh!)
Keystone Crossroads, May 9, 2016
Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of being tied as the sixth most corrupt state in the country, having received an "F" grade from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization. Given the endemic corruption in Harrisburg, it's worth asking: Is it time to move the state capital to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh? Could we cut out the rotten core of our state government simply by relocating it?
Pennsylvania bill to end seniority in teacher layoffs heads to Wolf
Post-Gazette, May 9, 2016
Republicans who control the state Legislature have pushed through a hotly contested bill to allow public schools to circumvent seniority when laying off teachers. The bill passed the Senate by a 26-22 vote Monday largely along party lines and now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, who pledged to veto it. Through a spokesman, he said the state's focus shouldn't be on mass layoffs but rather "how to invest in our schools, which already have the tools to evaluate underperforming teachers."
School districts await construction reimbursement money from state
Tribune-Review, May 7, 2016
When the state's nine-month budget impasse ended in March, money for Pennsylvania's 500 school districts was released, but the state's contribution remained short. About $266 million short.
GOP wants relief for schools if Pennsylvania budget stalemate strikes again
Meadville Tribune, May 4, 2016
In a sign of pessimism heading into budget season, Republicans are pushing for relief valves that will automatically release school funding even if no deal is struck by the end of June. Democrats say those triggers will diminish the pressure to finish a budget on time.
Pennsylvania legislators move to prevent repeat of budget gridlock
Post-Gazette, May 3, 2016
The state budget isn’t due for two months, but after last year’s gridlock, legislators on Monday took a step toward preventing a repeat of the stalemate that kept school funding bottled up for months.
Pennsylvania Women Work still waiting for funds delayed by state budget impasse
Post-Gazette, May 2, 2016
Five weeks since the budget was enacted, Julie Marx, PA Women Work’s executive director, said its funding has not come through and that she could get few answers from state officials about the delay. The state money accounts for almost half of PA Women Work’s annual budget of $1.2 million. “We are stymied; we’re paralyzed,” Ms. Marx said. A coalition, www.PApeoplecount.org, is trying to find ways the budget process can be adjusted so that “nonprofits can be sustainable and not broken by this political process,” said Samantha Balbier, executive director of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership.
Auditor General Warns Budget Stalemate Could Further Downgrade PA Credit
90.5 WESA, April 29, 2016
The state’s top fiscal watchdog says another budget impasse would lead to a “backdoor tax increase” in Pennsylvania. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Thursday that if lawmakers and the governor allow another lengthy budget stalemate to take place without “dealing” with the state’s projected structural deficit, the commonwealth will receive another credit downgrade, hiking the cost of borrowing.
It's time for a blue-ribbon commission to fix Pa's budget mess: George Wolff
PennLive, April 27, 2016
Submitted by David Streeter
Although hard to imagine in today's climate of fiscal austerity, 20 years ago the commonwealth was rolling in cash. Even though we never used the term, the state was running "structural surpluses" – taxes and other revenue exceeded expenses by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Pennsylvania schools get a funding formula
Watchdog.org, April 26, 2016
Within the fiscal code are elements of a weighted funding formula designed to overhaul public school funding and distribute money according to factors that include enrollment, charter school population, local poverty levels, and the number of students learning English or enrolled in special education programs.
What Really Motivates Someone To Vote?
90.5 WESA, April 26, 2016
Nearly 250 million Americans have the right to vote, but many don't exercise it. University of Pittsburgh Professor Victoria Shineman said there are plenty of reasons for that. "Voter registration is one of the biggest barriers, especially for initial participation," she said. "A lot of states have deadlines well before the actual election. A lot of people miss that deadline. Also things if you move, if you change your address, remembering to update your address." Some states are plagued with habitually long voting lines or strict voter I.D. laws. In Pennsylvania, voters need a qualifying reason to use the vote-by-mail system.
What does a state attorney general actually do? Read this before you vote in the Pennsylvania primary
PublicSource, April 25, 2016
On April 26, voters in both parties will have a choice for attorney general. Do the voters prefer a candidate with political experience or a candidate who’s been a prosecutor? Given that the current attorney general’s law license was suspended, it brings into question what the attorney general does on a daily basis and what skills are required to be a good attorney general.
The cold realities of education in a poor Pennsylvania school district
NewsWorks, April 24, 2016
Lawmakers decide how to divvy up that state cash but historically haven't considered important factors like the number of students living in poverty or learning English. If they did, districts like William Penn would see a big boost. In the meantime, the state's funding system is profoundly imbalanced, with predominantly white districts getting more per-student aid from the state than equally poor districts with more students of color.
· Related: Gov. Wolf refuses to sign legislation on school funding, Post-Gazette, April 23, 2016
How are Pennsylvania's GOP delegates selected? Most voters don't have a clue
The Morning Call, April 22, 2016
The state is the largest among five voting Tuesday and will be crucial in deciding who secures the GOP presidential nomination, whether it’s determined before or during this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Yet voters here have little confidence their preferences will be carried out. And most don’t even understand how the process works.
When Statehouse Politicians Make Things Worse
The New York Times, April 22, 2016
A 10-month budget standoff in Illinois has reached the point where the state comptroller, Leslie Geissler Munger, says she plans to delay the monthly paychecks of lawmakers and state officials because other bills and services deserve to be paid first. The comptroller, a Republican running for re-election, seems to think this will force the Democratic General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, to compromise. The paycheck strategy would be politically amusing were it not for the fact that the budget impasse is having severe effects on Illinois citizens.
Listen: Education Lawsuits Attempt To Rectify Pennsylvania's Funding Disparities
90.5 WESA, April 18, 2016
A current funding lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania has broken its constitutional obligation to provide a "thorough and efficient" education. Essential Pittsburgh talks with Cheryl Kleiman, Staff Attorney for the Education Law Center, one of the attorneys in the case. And Kevin McCorry WHYY Senior Education Writer who is contributing to the NPR reporting project "School Money" exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.
Democrats stand up for their school districts in opposing Wolf funding plan
NewsWorks, April 18, 2016
Pennsylvania's protracted budget negotiation ended nearly a month ago, but the fight continues over how $150 million in new education spending will be divided amongst the state's 500 school districts.
Could a two-year budget cycle prevent another impasse in Pennsylvania?
PennLive, April 13, 2016
Twenty states have adopted a two-year budget cycle that generally puts a halt to the constant maneuvering that Pennsylvania saw with its 2015-16 budget, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In theory, such a move would cut such budget wrangling in half.
House, Senate cast veto-proof majority votes on school funding bill
PennLive, April 13, 2016
Both chambers cast veto-proof majority votes on Wednesday to pass a fiscal code bill that would require those dollars be distributed using the Basic Education Funding Commission-recommended formula that will result in 473 school districts receiving more money than they would under the governor's formula.
Political frictions dissuade candidates for open seats in Pa. Legislature
Tribune-Review, April 11, 2016
A decade after a quarter of the Legislature changed hands following the unpopular middle-of-the-night pay raise vote in 2005, another sizable group of state lawmakers is hanging up its Capitol ID badges. Eighteen lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate — are not seeking re-election this year
Nonprofits bear budget impasse scars
The Standard Speaker, April 11, 2016
Pennsylvania’s human service nonprofits enter the spring months with scars from the recently ended state budget impasse and worries about what the next budget fight will bring. With the deadline for passing the fiscal 2016-17 budget some two months away, nonprofit leaders have a common request for the state’s elected leaders: Compromise and pass a budget on time. “At the heart of it all is respect for the deadline of June 30 and a clear understanding of its impact on nonprofits,” said Samantha Balbier, executive director of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership. Should the deadline be missed, the GPNP and others call for a basic change in state policy. They want state aid for human services to be classified as essential for protection of public health, safety and protection. This would enable state aid to flow even without a budget in place, drawing on the revenue flow from existing state tax revenue.
Why Pa. budget crisis has been terrible for vulnerable children
NewsWorks, April 4, 2016
While the protracted budget process has dangerous impacts on a variety of areas, including the state's primary education system, its worst impacts are on children at risk of abuse. Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of being the only state to cut off child welfare funding during a budget crisis this year. Even Illinois — also lacking an on-time budget — ensured child welfare funding was maintained.
School officials remind lawmakers of the consequences of the late state budget
PennLive, April 4, 2016
Even though closure was brought to the 2015-16 state budget, school district officials from around the state gathered at the Capitol to remind Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers that their work is not done.
Commentary: Nonprofits, guard against future budget stalemates
Philly.com, April 1, 2016
Pennsylvania officially moved on from its historic nine-month budget impasse. Gov. Wolf's decision to let the latest budget offering become law brings an end to a long and painful time for the health and human services community and, most importantly, for those who rely on us for support. But it's difficult to feel any great sense of relief.
As Wolf's fiscal code veto takes full effect, Republicans spoil for a fight
PennLive, March 29, 2016
We're not quite three months from the June 30 deadline to pass the 2016-17 state budget. And debate hasn't even begun on that one yet. Digging in over the fiscal code sends an early signal that it's likely going to be a long, long spring.
Wolf vetoes fiscal code bill related to Pennsylvania budget
Post-Gazette, March 29, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed legislation that was passed along with the Pennsylvania budget, citing concerns about how it divides money for schools, borrows $2.5 billion, affects greenhouse gas emissions at power plants, and regulates oil and gas drilling.
As Impasse Ends, Democrats Are A Frustrated Minority
90.5 WESA, March 28, 2016
Democratic state lawmakers who were reliable backers of Governor Tom Wolf’s agenda during the budget impasse say they may not stick so closely to his side in the next year. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said his caucus will do some soul-searching ahead of the next round of budget negotiations, after coming away with so little from the budget impasse.
Impasse ends, but Lone-Wolf Doctrine remains
Tribune-Review, March 28, 2016
It took 267 days, two full vetoes, one partial veto and one veto threat, but Pennsylvania finally has a state budget. In letting the Legislature's budget become law, Gov. Tom Wolf conceded defeat, saying, “We need to move on.” We can all agree on that.
The good news is that we have a budget; Bad news, we still have a budget problem: Tony May
PennLive, March 27, 2016
Now, we have a short term budget with no action on property tax, liquor or pensions and everybody possessing at least a Texas Instruments pocket calculator or a functioning abacus is predicting a "structural deficit" for the next fiscal year running anywhere from $1.6 billion to $2 billion or more. Where is the money to come from to fill the budget gap?
Could budget issues arise again for Wolf, GOP in 2016-17?
Post-Gazette, March 25, 2016
After nearly nine months of watching the Pennsylvania state budget impasse, some observers said Thursday that the coming year could look a lot like the past year. Whether a similar outcome would be acceptable was a matter of perspective.
With Budget Impasse Ending, What's Next?
90.5 WESA, March 24, 2016
After battling the legislature for nearly nine months, what finally convinced Governor Wolf to allow the the supplemental budget to close out Fiscal Year 2015-16? And while the state budget crisis is over for now, what will happen between now and the next budget deadline on July 1?
Pennsylvania's budget impasse comes to an end: 'We need to move on'
Post-Gazette, March 24, 2016
After nearly nine months, Pennsylvania’s state budget impasse ground to an end Wednesday, with Gov. Tom Wolf saying he would allow a Republican-crafted appropriations bill to become law without his signature.
Editorial: Finally, a budget: Next time, Pa. officials must mind the clock
Post-Gazette, March 24, 2016
It’s about time. Nine months into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania has a complete budget. Not an impressive start for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf or a shining moment for the Republican-controlled Legislature.
After Nine Months, Budget Battles Come To An End
90.5 WESA, March 24, 2016
Nearly nine months into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania's budget impasse will end this week. Governor Wolf has said he will allow a roughly six billion dollar supplemental funding plan to become law, but without his signature. "I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply doesn't add up," said the Governor who insists the budget is unbalanced, exacerbating a nearly two billion dollar structural deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Essential Pittsburgh will talk with Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai about the governor's decision and the end of the 2015-2016 budget impasse.
Wolf's Budget Finale Leaves Some Loose Ends
WITF, March 23, 2016
Samantha Balbier, director of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, said tucked into the bill was a provision ensuring that child welfare services would receive a full year's worth of state funding even if the next budget is also late by several months.
East Allegheny No Longer Able To Pay Its Teachers & Staff
CBS Pittsburgh, March 22, 2016
This Friday will be the district’s last pay date because the district can no longer borrow money from lenders who doubt that Harrisburg will ever act.
Pitt-Greensburg students, faculty, staff, alumni go to Harrisburg with PA budget worries
WTAE, March 22, 2016
More than three dozen people gathered before dawn Tuesday to board a bus on the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg campus and travel to Harrisburg to lobby over the financial bind created by the state budget impasse on education funding.
A momentary pause: At Democratic leaders' request, Gov. Wolf agrees to delay threatened budget veto
PennLive, March 21, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday he has agreed, at state Democratic legislative leaders' request, not to veto the state budget closure package on his desk "today."
School districts grapple with tough choices as Gov. Wolf threatens budget veto
Tribune-Review, March 21, 2016
Teachers in the East Allegheny School District will be getting their last paycheck this week, unless the district can secure more funding.
· Related: Norwin school board votes to take out $20 million line of credit, Post-Gazette, March 21, 2016
Budget veto threat lingers while Gov. Tom Wolf seeks counsel with Democratic allies
PennLive, March 20, 2016
Thirteen House Democrats cast their votes Wednesday with Republicans for a $30 billion spending plan designed to serve as a three-month truce in the state's unending budget wars. With 200 members currently seated and, that's just three more Democratic votes away from a potential veto override in the House of Representatives, assuming the Republicans can bring all of their 118 votes to the table.
Opinion: Gov. Wolf is right to insist on lasting budget solutions
Post-Gazette, March 21, 2016
Pick a random editorial published in a random newspaper in Pennsylvania over the past century, and the odds are pretty good that, among other things, it will call for government officials to focus on the long-term public good instead of short-term political gain.
State money brings relief to Westmoreland libraries
Tribune-Review, March 18, 2016
Westmoreland County libraries are breathing a sigh of relief after receiving state funds last month as part of the stopgap spending plan passed in lieu of a full state budget, but some are still dealing with shaky finances and the murky fiscal future.
Hostage standoff: Wolf and the Legislature harm the universities
Post-Gazette, March 16, 2016
Pennsylvania’s state-related universities are hostages in the Harrisburg budgetary standoff, afraid to complain too loudly about their captors because the consequences are so grave.
Wolf, legislators, and school advocates must stand together for Pa. education
NewsWorks, March 16, 2016
We are heading into a critical time in the seemingly endless Pennsylvania budget crisis. This is the moment when Pennsylvanians must stand strong for a budget that is not only done but done right. And that means a budget that finally, after years of deep cuts and shallow restorations, begins to fund education at levels that meet the needs of our children.
At a glance: Highlights of the latest Pa. state budget proposal
PennLive, March 15, 2016
Republicans who control the Pennsylvania General Assembly say they plan to take votes Wednesday on a new, $30 billion spending plan that they hope will end their nine-month budget stalemate with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Here we go again. General Assembly set to vote on another 2015-16 budget plan
PennLive, March 15, 2016
Nine months into the fiscal year and still no assurances Pennsylvania will emerge with a 2015-16 budget but that doesn't stop state lawmakers from trying again.
Could this be the week Pennsylvania finally finishes up work on a 2015-16 budget?
PennLive.com, March 15, 2016
With only three months left in the 2015-16 fiscal year, state lawmakers this week are planning to take another stab at finalizing a state budget to alleviate financial concerns that are keeping school officials up late at night. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday is expected to consider amending a House bill to provide for a $30 billion state spending plan that requires no tax increases, according to sources close to House and Senate leadership.
What should Gov. Tom Wolf do if this latest 2015-16 budget plan lands on his desk?
PennLive.com, March 15, 2016
A movement is afoot in the General Assembly to end this still unsettled 2015-16 budget by passing a $30 billion spending plan that includes no tax increase. What's your opinion about whether Wolf should sign this latest budget version if it reaches his desk? Take the poll and see what others are saying.
School boards, state residents fed up there's no state budget
Bucks County Courier Times, March 14, 2016
More and more, Pennsylvania school districts are feeling the impact of the ongoing state budget impasse and are sharing their horror stories online. Many districts, including the Allentown city school system, have had to borrow money to cover operating expenses. Other districts have delayed needed facility repairs, put a freeze on making purchases and are considering potential staffing cuts if the impasse continues.
Letters: Wolf’s minimum wage II
Tribune Review, March 12, 2016
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applauds Gov. Tom Wolf for raising the minimum wage for state workers and workers whose companies are on contract with the state.
Western Pa. GOP legislators go to Heidelberg to blast Gov. Tom Wolf's tax plan
The Times (Beaver County), March 12, 2016
Local business owners say state taxes are crushing small businesses and they cannot afford to pay more.
Last Budget Meeting Was In December, Lawmaker Says
WESA-FM, March 11, 2016
The state hasn’t had a full spending plan for more than eight months, but top lawmakers haven’t yet had a budget meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration in 2016, the House Appropriations Committee chairman said Thursday. “We haven’t met since December,” said Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware). “And we should have been.”
Lack of funding puts Pennsylvania 4-H programs in jeopardy
Bucks County Courier Times, March 11, 2016
Pennsylvania 4-H serves 90,000 students (ages 8 to 18) across the state. The last Pennsylvania budget included a line-item veto by Gov. Tom Wolf that cut funding for Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University. Penn State, which has been floating the School of Agriculture’s costs, has announced that if the new budget does not reinstate the program’s funding, all 4-H offices will close on July 1 and 1,100 educators and staff will be laid off.
Local school district leaders draft letter urging education funding support
The Titusville Herald, March 11, 2016
In an open letter the superintendents of four northwest Pennsylvania school districts beg the question of voters, regarding the ongoing record-setting state budget stalemate: what is adequate funding for public education in this state? The letter was drafted by the leaders of Titusville Area School District, Conneaut Area School District, Crawford Central School District, and PENNCREST School District.
Allegheny Schools struggling as the state government impasse drags on
KDKA-TV, March 10, 2016
The winds of concern are swirling around the East Allegheny School District, talk of teachers not getting paid and schools closing. Superintendent Donald MacFann tells KDKA the district is struggling and it needs the $3.8 million it is owed by the state. MacFann says, “The teachers will be paid tomorrow, the board will meet Monday, and we will take a look at the books next week and see where we are.”
PA School Boards Association files relief application Wednesday, calls for release of districts' owed subsidies
Bucks County Courier, March 10, 2016
With the state budget impasse burning a hole in the pockets of the state's school districts, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association filed an application for special relief Wednesday. The filing calls for the secretary of education, the treasurer and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to immediately pay school districts the subsidies that were to be paid Feb. 25, according to a PSBA statement. The association is also asking Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to order all future payments be made in a timely manner in accordance with the school code and at "levels no less than the levels paid in the 2014–2015 school year," the statement read.
Schools feeling pain over state's budget 'failure'
The Intelligencer, March 9, 2016
The Centennial School District began cutting spending in November when the state budget was only five months late. In January, it placed a freeze on purchases, paying only utilities and salaries. New Hope-Solebury and Souderton Area School District also have enacted a budget freeze. Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of the General Assembly's budget and ultimate release of half of the education subsidy Dec. 29 has forced districts to cut back on this year's spending and forecast further reductions next year.
Plum School District leaders approve $14M loan to cover day-to-day costs
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 8, 2016
The state budget impasse prompted Plum School District leaders to approve a $14 million loan Tuesday night to cover day-to-day costs through the end of the school year. District officials are owed about $14 million from the state, district business manager Eugene Marraccini said.
Here's why not all education $$ are created equal
PennLive.com, March 8, 2016
As the House and Senate Appropriation committees meet this Tuesday to take up the state education department's 2016-17 budget request, it's time to look at the widespread belief that Pennsylvania's 500 school districts are woefully underfunded. Some are. But some are not.
When State Politicians Can't Compromise
Inside Higher Ed, March 8, 2016
Higher education in Pennsylvania and Illinois have received next to nothing for months. While some money is assumed to come through eventually, the timing is unpredictable and the shortages are severe -- especially for the many public colleges that don't have much in the way of endowments or other sources of revenue.
Jeff Sheridan: Expect runaway school property taxes if Republicans get their way with state budget
Times Leader, March 7, 2016
Massive cuts at the state level and a lack of real investment in education are not only hurting school districts across Pennsylvania, but also having a devastating impact on middle-class families and seniors who can no longer afford to pay for the Republican property tax increases that have been passed down to local communities over the past several years.
Budget Impasse? Amend the PA Constitution
York Daily Record, March 7, 2016
Some lawmakers are sponsoring legislation that would continue state funding in the event of another budget impasse. State funds would be paid out according to the previous year’s appropriation until a new budget is agreed upon.H.B. 232, if successful in the legislature, also would require the approval of Pennsylvania voters. It would amend the state constitution. The earliest it could appear on a ballot is November.
Unlearned lesson: Universities suffer from state budget inaction
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 6, 2016
Nicholas Jones, Penn State’s executive vice president and provost, told members of the House Appropriations Committee that the state’s largest state-related university is in the precarious position, anticipating it might not get any state dollars from the 2015-16 budget year. Last year, Penn State got $231 million from the state, about 6 percent of its budget.
Pa. budget dispute sets modern-day record
Times Online, March 4, 2016
Usually, setting records is something to be proud of — a unique, notable achievement. So, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and the 253 members of the General Assembly, take a bow; tomorrow, you will have set a record for the longest state budget impasse in modern history — 249 days and counting.
Midstate lawmakers rally against Gov. Tom Wolf's budget plan with proposed $2.7 billion in new taxes
PennLive, March 4, 2016
If Gov. Tom Wolf hopes to rebuild the bipartisan coalition that almost delivered a compromise state budget proposal to Pennsylvania in December, lawmakers from the midstate sent this signal Friday: Better start looking for Republican votes in other parts of the state.
Human services organizations still feeling impact of budget impasse
Post-Gazette, Feb. 24, 2016Human service organizations are getting months-delayed payments from the state, but many say interest payments, layoffs and other disruptions mean they are still feeling the impacts of Harrisburg's long-running budget dispute.
Looming closure: Keep schools open; shut down Harrisburg
Post-Gazette, Feb. 28, 2016
It has come to this. Eight months into a fiscal year without a completed state budget, the Department of Education is advising Pennsylvania school districts on how to shut down if they run out of money.
Presidents of Pitt, PSU decry state budget stalemate
Post-Gazette, Feb. 27, 2016
Mr. Barron’s and Mr. Gallagher’s remarks added to the theater that has been building for months around a blame game between Democrats and Republicans over why the commonwealth’s budget, due last June 30, still is not finished.
Poll: State government dismays Pennsylvania residents
Tribune-Review, Feb. 25, 2016
Nearly half of Pennsylvania's voters identify the government and politicians as the state's biggest problems, trumping concerns about education, taxes and personal finances by a wide margin, a poll released Thursday shows.
Gov. Tom Wolf says he has 'treatable' prostate cancer
Post-Gazette, Feb. 24, 2016
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said today that he has prostate cancer but that it is treatable and will not interfere with his work as governor.
Pennsylvanians don't have much confidence in state government
PennLive, Feb. 23, 2016
After a year where Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly failed to agree upon a budget, and Attorney General Kathleen Kane had her law license suspended — among other things — it's no surprise that Pennsylvanians have little confidence in state government. According to a Gallup poll conducted between March and December 2015, about 53 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed are not confident in state government. That puts Pennsylvania residents in the sixth place spot — tied with Kansas and New York residents — for lack of confidence in their state leaders.
Lines Drawn In The Sand, PA Budget Process Gets Underway
90.5 WESA, Feb. 23, 2016
Budget hearings got off to a testy start in the state Capitol as the Wolf administration defended the governor’s spending proposal on Monday, the first day of three weeks of scheduled hearings.
Budget work starts again in Harrisburg
Citizen’s Voice, Feb. 22, 2016
The start of budget hearings today will signal a new and likely contentious phase of a political fight that started a year ago. For the next three weeks, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees will grill members of the Wolf administration and other state agency heads about their spending priorities for the next year and handling of their offices.
Joan Benso: New budget a new opportunity to prioritize our kids
The Morning Call, Feb. 22, 2016
While it seems like elected officials in Harrisburg can't reach consensus on much these days, there is one topic where agreement still can be achieved: Pennsylvania's children.
Opinion: Flagship universities are at risk
Post-Gazette, Feb. 21, 2016
Eight months into this fiscal year, our schools still have not received any funding from the state — a hardship with serious impacts — and we now face the very real prospect of receiving zero dollars for the entire year, which translates to a combined $600 million shortfall. It is not for us to assign blame for this unprecedented situation, but instead to focus on the consequences if the state budget impasse is not soon resolved.
Opinion: Pennsylvania should look to Louisiana for budget stalemate solution
Tribune-Review, Feb. 20, 2016
Declaring that legislative inaction will lead to the cancellation of classes at the state's universities, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said “many students will not be able to graduate, and student athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester.” Adding the kicker, he said, “That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.” And just in case some legislators missed the point, Sports Illustrated clarified it, with the jarring headline, “Louisiana governor: Budget crisis could cancel LSU football season.” Wolf has similar arrows in his quiver. Football is king in much of Pennsylvania, too, along with other sports. The prospect of losing a season would be more than some voters could bear. That might shake loose a few legislative votes as fans clamor for compromise and a return to the games.
Pennsylvania Working Families calls for action to end state budget impasse
Bucks County Courier Times, Feb. 17, 2016
"(Lawmakers) haven't passed a budget in 230 days, which is almost eight months of no funding or emergency funding for schools, social services, food shelters, all these organizations that desperately need funding," said Lena Glickman, Bucks County member of Pennsylvania Working Families. "We're here today to let our representatives know that they need to do their jobs by passing a budget that provides adequate school funding."
No way to treat Pa. citizens
Philly.com, Feb. 16, 2016
Current funding levels are woefully insufficient for a properly functioning commonwealth and, barring further action in Harrisburg, could in fact threaten the education of our children and the well-being of many of our most at-risk populations. As the chief executives of the Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Foundation, and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, we have committed ourselves to the PA People Count Campaign. The effort is a statewide coalition of community foundations, United Ways, and other funders (united under the leadership of the Pittsburgh Foundation and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania) to advocate full funding of human services in this year's budget as well as permanent reforms to prevent future budget delays.
Pennsylvania budget struggle 'mirror image' of Illinois
Tribune-Review, Feb. 14, 2016
Illinois and Pennsylvania, two states without final 2015 budgets, should trade governors, a business lobbyist suggests.
Universities plan no immediate tuition increases despite state budget stalemate
Post-Gazette, Feb. 13, 2016
Endeavors ranging from protecting the state’s poultry industry to guarding against the Avian flu are being impeded by the budget stalemate in Harrisburg that has left Penn State University to date with no appropriation, school officials say. But one item not in jeopardy — at least for this year — is the tuition freeze that Penn State trustees agreed to back in July for the 2015-16 academic year.
Nonprofits worry about ongoing state government gridlock
Post-Gazette, Feb. 11, 2016
During the state’s budget impasse, many nonprofit human service agencies across Pennsylvania cut services, laid people off, took out loans, and generally struggled, cut off from state funds for nearly six months. And after Tuesday’s budget presentation by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf — which was not well-received by Republican legislative leaders — many nonprofits say they are concerned that another prolonged budget stalemate could be coming.
A day after presenting proposal, Wolf defends his 'responsible' budget
Post-Gazette, Feb. 10, 2016
He called his path “a responsible budget” that addressed structural deficits and provided historic increases in education funding. “The alternative is really bad,” he said. He said if a balanced budget wasn’t adopted, there would be a $1 billion education funding deficit. “If we don't make the right choice we’re going to be in trouble.”
Gov. Wolf's 2016 Pa. budget plan: Who are the winners and losers?
PennLive, Feb. 9, 2016
Total spending on health and human services would rise to $36.8 billion, up from $34.3 billion. Health and human services represent the single largest part of the budget, with nearly two thirds of the money coming from the federal government.
Gov. Wolf Proposes Second Budget While First Budget Still In Limbo
90.5 WESA, Feb. 9, 2016
The first-term Democrat delivered a nearly $33.3 billion budget proposal to the Republican-controlled legislature. That would be a 14 percent increase in spending from FY 2014-15, the final budget of then Gov. Tom Corbett. To make it balance, Wolf will need to persuade Republicans to pass a nearly $3 billion tax increase; part of the hold up of this year's budget was the GOP's opposition to tax hikes.
Pennsylvania's 203-Seat Legislature Is The Largest In The Country
90.5 WESA, Feb. 9, 2016
Does Pennsylvania have too many state legislators? That’s what Brian O’Neill, columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, believes. He has been advocating shrinking the legislature since 1994. Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer sat down with O’Neill to discuss the idea and how to make it a reality.
Wolf to propose new budget as stalemate lingers over current spending plan
Post-Gazette, Feb. 9, 2016
When Gov. Tom Wolf strides into the House chamber around 11:30 a.m. today, he will be in the unusual position of proposing a budget for next year while the budget for the current year — already seven months done — remains incomplete. Mr. Wolf is about to deliver a second budget proposal with a familiar theme: boosting school funding while raising taxes to pay for automatic cost increases.
State spending without full budget irks Pennsylvania senators
Post-Gazette, Feb. 9, 2016
A day before Gov. Tom Wolf was set to deliver his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, legislators were still squabbling over continued spending for this year.
Budget impasse forces many school districts to borrow funds
Post-Gazette, Feb. 8, 2016
School districts across the state have had to borrow money, miss payments and cut programs or services and a number expect to raise taxes as a result of the state budget impasse.
Questions Grow In Pennsylvania's Confusing Budget Situation
90.5 WESA, Feb. 8, 2016
Pennsylvania lawmakers are returning to the Capitol with growing questions over the state government's increasingly confusing budget situation.
Eichelberger: Pa. Gov. Wolf spending 'potentially illegal'
Tribune-Review, Feb. 8, 2016
Members of a joint Senate panel on Monday grilled Treasury Department officials about why the state will release money to pay agency bills when the Legislature hasn't approved final spending numbers as required by the state constitution.
Students ready to rally in Harrisburg in push for state university funding
NewsWorks, Feb. 8, 2016
Pennsylvania Lawmakers entering the Capitol Rotunda Monday will be greeted with signs urging "Don't Be Nuts, Restore the Cuts" and advising "Major Key: Quality Education Isn't Free."
Groundhog Day Becoming Reality in Pennsylvania Budget Stalemate
Bloomberg Business, Feb. 8, 2016
Wolf, a Democrat who took office in January 2015, and Republicans who control the legislature are mired in the longest stalemate in 45 years over how to spend taxpayers’ money. Wolf wants more funding for schools, paid for with a record tax increase. Republicans have chafed, calling for changes to workers’ benefits to curb the growing liabilities in the state’s pension funds. The outcome: no budget for the year that started in July.
Wolf calls for an ‘honest budget,’ tax increase
Post-Gazette, Feb. 7, 2016
Eleven weary months later, Gov. Tom Wolf is about to deliver a second budget proposal that he says will narrowly focus on boosting school funding while raising taxes to pay for automatic cost increases.
Governor Wolf Previews 2016-17 Budget Address Despite Impasse
90.5 WESA, Feb. 5, 2016
With his 2016-2017 budget address due on February 9th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf joins Essential Pittsburgh to talk about some of what he's planning to propose including more funding for education. (Begins at noon today.)
Visiting Philly school, Wolf says he'll seek $60 million more for early childhood education
NewsWorks, Feb. 4, 2016
With this year's budget still sitting on the table in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf says next year, he wants to increase spending on early childhood education by $60 million. That's on top of the $60 million he asked for in the current year's budget. The partial deal he signed in December provides $30 million for early childhood education. Wolf said his new proposal would cover the costs of enrolling about 14,000 more Pennsylvania children in pre-K.
Pennsylvania schools struggle to plan for 2016-17 without state budget
Tribune-Review, Feb. 3, 2016
School districts are required under state law to submit their finalized budgets for the 2016-17 school year by June. But because the annual budgets are largely based on what districts received the previous year, the budget impasse has left district leaders with many unanswered questions as they attempt to make projections for next year.
Wolf imposes limits filling vacant state jobs
Post-Gazette, Feb. 3, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is imposing new temporary limits on the number of vacant staff positions that can be filled at state agencies under his jurisdiction as a way to curtail spending, at least until a complete state budget is adopted.
By the numbers, Pa. voters are hungry for reform: Stephen Drachler
PennLive, Feb. 2, 2016
In my 40 years in journalism, politics, and advocacy, I have seen polls painting a negative picture of the government and the political class, but never have I seen one showing voters so disenchanted with their elected leaders across the Commonwealth. Some of the numbers are, frankly, stunning.
Gov. Wolf proposes more K-12 funds for next budget
Post-Gazette, Feb. 2, 2016
With his first state budget still incomplete, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that his second budget address will feature a renewed call for increases in state funding for K-12 education, both in the current fiscal year and the next. After touring classrooms at an elementary school here, Mr. Wolf announced that his budget proposal Feb. 9 will assume an increase of $377 million to the main K-12 education line in the current year’s still-incomplete state budget and then add $200 million — a 3.3 percent increase — in the fiscal year that will begin July 1.
As Pennsylvania budget stalemate persists, 'dark money' battle ensues
Post-Gazette, Feb. 1, 2016
A number of outside groups, on the right and left, have spent heavily on television and radio ads, as well as campaign-style mailings, targeting individual legislators during the state’s lengthy budget stalemate.
Deciphering The Befuddling Budget Situation
90.5 WESA, Feb. 1, 2016
With Governor Wolf set to give a budget address next week without having one now, Essential Pittsburgh will talk with House Majority Leader, Republican State Rep. Dave Reed and Democratic State Senator Jay Costa, the Senate Minority Leader, beginning at noon today.
Governor Wolf's budget options limited
Tribune-Review, Jan. 31, 2016
Anthony May, former communications director for the late Democratic Gov. Robert Casey, has participated in and covered budgets as a reporter dating back to ex-Gov. Milton Shapp's first in 1971. He sees no easy answers or solutions with the state facing a $1.9 billion structural deficit.
Editorial: Size matters: Keep pushing to shrink the Pa. Legislature
Post-Gazette, Jan. 31, 2016
The House and Senate must keep building steam behind the long-running campaign to shrink the size of America’s largest full-time legislature. The popular — and necessary — effort got another push last Wednesday when the Senate voted 43-6 to reduce the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 203 to 151. In May the House passed the same bill, which would amend the state constitution. The House also approved a related bill to downsize the Senate from 50 members to 37, while senators have yet to take it up.
Pennsylvania voters register disgust with Harrisburg antics in poll
Tribune-Review, Jan. 28, 2016
Nine months ago, Pennsylvania's registered voters felt more optimistic about the state's future than they had in five years. Now, according to a poll released Thursday, they are more discouraged about the state's direction than they have been in at least six years. More than four out of five voters think state government needs to be reformed, starting with the Legislature.
Retiring state lawmakers to take community clout with them
Tribune-Review, Jan. 27, 2016
The region has lost two of its most senior state representatives in what one political expert predicted could be a trend of veteran lawmakers leaving office and taking the clout they wielded for their districts with them.
The ‘never again campaign’: County commissioners issue 2016 priorities
Keystone Crossroads, Jan. 26, 2016
The group says they are fully committed to these five issues that affect all 67 counties in the state: budget reforms, child protective services, behavioral health reform, tax reform and a Marcellus Shale gas impact fee.
Human Services Funding, Tax Options Top County Leaders' Wish List
90.5 WESA, Jan. 25, 2016
The county leaders want to make sure that what happened during the ongoing budget stalemate never happens again. The counties were required to continue providing human services, but no money was coming from Harrisburg -- not even federal dollars, which are supposed to “pass through” the state to the counties.
Pennsylvania Legislature trapped in budgetary twilight zone
Post-Gazette, Jan. 25, 2016
The lack of a completed state budget more than halfway through the fiscal year is giving rise to a number of strange and unprecedented situations in Harrisburg.
Woes across government branches tarnish Pa.'s image, experts say
Tribune-Review, Jan. 24, 2016
Kyle Kopko, a political science professor at Elizabethtown College, sums it up: “State government is a mess.”
Budget battle dominated Tom Wolf’s first year in office
Post-Gazette.com, Jan. 20, 2016
Exactly a year ago, his hand on a mid-19th century family Bible, on another cold January day, Gov. Tom Wolf took the oath of office, pledging jobs that pay, schools that teach and a government that works. Now, Mr. Wolf is mired in a months-long standoff with the Legislature, more than halfway through a fiscal year that started July 1 and still without a completed spending plan.
How Do Other States Handle A Budget Impasse?
90.5 WESA, Jan. 19, 2016
In PA, there are no consequences for politicians should they be late in delivering a budget. Their pay does not decrease, the government remains open, and legislators are free to go about their usual schedule. This is not so in other states.
No Budget Deal In Sight As Pennsylvania Senate Reconvenes
90.5 WESA, Jan. 19, 2016
The Pennsylvania Senate is returning to its first voting session of 2016, as Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers give no signs of resolving a 7-month-old budget fight that's left billions in school aid in limbo.
PA Sees Exodus Of Veteran, Moderate State Lawmakers
90.5 WESA, Jan. 15, 2016
One legacy of Pennsylvania’s 2015 budget gridlock may prove to be the wave of retirement announcements from longtime state lawmakers. More than a dozen House and Senate members are calling it quits, most of them with more than a decade of service under their belts.
Wolf Still Hopes For Budget Deal As Next Proposal Nears
90.5 WESA, Jan. 14, 2016
Wolf said Thursday he's not ready to buy the idea that sealing a budget deal is politically impossible until after lawmakers get through the April 26 primary election. Wolf says lawmakers would be better served politically to point to a completed budget package.
Even with funds flowing, community colleges are reeling from budget impasse
Keystone Crossroads, Jan. 13, 2016
Some of the upsides of a community college — lower tuition, shorter programs, local funding contributions — have quickly become challenges during the budget impasse. Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges have been hurt by the six month delay, and may continue to feel the pinch even though state funds have been released.
Like Budgets That Pass In The Night
90.5 WESA, Jan. 13, 2016
State lawmakers are bracing for a dizzying prospect: planning the next fiscal year’s spending before the current year’s budget has been finalized.
Hospitals: Budget line-item veto targets 'most vulnerable' population
Post-Gazette, Jan. 14, 2016
In the grand scheme, the line item veto of supplemental funds for a few dozen Pennsylvania hospitals last month by Gov. Tom Wolf does not carry the weight, and certainly did not garner the attention, that education funding or pension reform has in the ongoing state budget impasse. But hospital association executives say the cuts come awfully close to the muscle and bones of hospital operations.
House votes to tweak Pa. education funding distribution
NewsWorks, Jan. 12, 2016
Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted to stop Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's use of a formula that targets extra subsidy money for school districts hardest hit by past spending cuts. Representatives voted 111-81 Tuesday to amend the fiscal code bill, important companion legislation to the state budget. The bill now goes back to the Senate.
Budget disagreements over public school funding, other issues show in Pennsylvania's fiscal code bill
PennLive, Jan. 11, 2016
Pennsylvania's House Republican leaders formalized opposition Monday to distribution formulas for state aid to public schools that they say Gov. Tom Wolf has unilaterally and improperly implemented with the partial 2015-16 budget enacted last month.
Pa. House debates aid to Penn State, Pitt and other state-related schools
Tribune-Review, Jan. 11, 2016
A push by the state House Republican majority to bypass a months-old state budget standoff and free up $578 million for state-related universities foundered Monday as party leaders failed to attract the required two-thirds majority.
CCAC borrows to offset state budget crisis; interest keeps growing
Post-Gazette, Jan. 11, 2016
At Community College of Allegheny County, $31,000 would be enough to send about 10 students to school tuition-free for a year. But with the college’s state appropriation more than six month late, it’s unlikely that sum will be available for financial aid. Instead, it’s roughly the amount CCAC will be giving a bank to cover interest and fees.
Governor, lawmakers to renew fray over Pa. gas tax
Tribune-Review, Jan. 10, 2016
Pennsylvania's natural gas industry and lawmakers in Harrisburg are preparing for another battle over a severance tax on production, even before the current state budget is settled.
Schools group files suit over halted funding
WITF, Jan. 8, 2016
The suit claims it's illegal and unconstitutional to cut off commonwealth schools from their money when there's no final budget, especially when other programs and state employees continue to be paid.
Wolf takes jabs at GOP lawmakers in stop in Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review, Jan. 7, 2016
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday continued to rail against Republican legislators after their most recent rejection of a state budget.
Late budget impacting incumbent lawmakers' plans to seek re-election
PennLive, Jan. 7, 2016
After serving seven terms in the state House, Rep. John Payne plans to call it quits at the end of this year. Speculation has it that other incumbents may be reaching the same conclusion after this still-ongoing budget experience took precedence that dominated the past year's legislative agenda.
Pennsylvania Gets $2B Credit Line Amid Budget Fight, Deficit
90.5 WESA, Jan. 6, 2016
Pennsylvania's state treasurer is extending a $2 billion line of credit to prevent the state government from bouncing checks amid a seven-month-old budget fight between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Charter Schools Cry Foul Over Funding Cut
90.5 WESA, Jan. 6, 2016
As the state expedited billions of dollars in overdue payments to schools, counties, and social services, charter schools condemned the Wolf administration’s decision to reroute some of their money in the absence of a Legislature-approved funding formula.
Legislators return to Harrisburg with budget tasks still unfinished
Post-Gazette, January 6, 2016
The state Constitution requires the General Assembly to meet at noon on the first Tuesday of January, and so both legislative chambers held brief sessions. But the topic around the Capitol remained the state budget, after Gov. Tom Wolf last week signed into law $23.39 billion of spending, striking the rest of what had been a $30.26 billion Republican-crafted budget through line-item vetoes.
Patience taxed: Pennsylvanians deserve a complete budget — now
Post-Gazette, January 6, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement that one of Pennsylvania’s reviled business taxes died at the end of 2015 is overshadowed by the uncertainty that persists over the state’s budget and tax plans.
Pennsylvania colleges borrow as they await funds from state
Post-Gazette, January 6, 2016
Two Western Pennsylvania community colleges have tapped more than $10 million in bank lines of credit to meet payroll and ensure other classroom and campus operations will continue while waiting for state appropriations now half-a-year overdue.
Service Agencies Get Some Relief After Months Without State Funding
90.5 WESA, January 5, 2016
Victim Outreach Intervention Center in Butler County, which serves victims of domestic violence, was hit by the budget impasse. “So we’ve had to find the money to stay open and now we have to find the money to pay for the money we had to borrow to stay open,” said VOICe Executive Director Heidi Artman. “It’s frustrating, and it’s infuriating.”
Watch: Max King quoted on PCNC’s NightTalk
PCNC, January 4, 2015
Partial state budget raises odds of work on 2 plans at once
Tribune-Review, January 4, 2016
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf faces the prospect in February of introducing his budget plan for next year with this year's budget still unresolved, analysts said Monday.
Related: Pa. budget talks could hit tougher sledding in election year, NewsWorks, January 4, 2015
Pennsylvania school districts starting to get state’s long-delayed funding
Post-Gazette, January 4, 2016
School districts will receive, as a base, a sum equivalent to their first six months of funding from last year, said Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf. The Democratic governor last week signed into law $23.39 billion worth of state spending, reducing through line-item vetoes the remainder of what had been a $30.26 billion Republican-crafted budget.
Pittsburgh-area senior centers look at new ways to engage clientele
Post-Gazette, January 4, 2016
State funds typically cover about half the cost of operating senior centers, with agencies’ general fund-raising and donations from consumers paying for the rest. The state’s six-month budget impasse cut off regular government allocations, causing struggles for many agencies that didn’t have reserve funds to rely upon; last week’s approval in Harrisburg of a partial budget is supposed to renew that stream. The state funding level has not gone up for many years, however, prompting center operators to look for ways to maximize efficiency.
Legislators pass budgets more swiftly if there's fallout, review finds
Tribune-Review, January 3, 2016
Said Max King, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, “When the vulnerable populations are held hostage and they don't have a lot of political influence, nothing happens.”
Brian O'Neill / Harrisburg's harrowing budget mess: You'll laugh, you'll cry
Post-Gazette, January 3, 2016
What’s funnier? That Pennsylvania’s attorney general is no longer an attorney or that the state budget isn’t ready for serving, even after 253 legislative chefs and one governor added and subtracted ingredients for more than six months?
Pa. OKs tax credits for educational donations, research, film projects
Tribune-Review, January 1, 2016
“The film industry will be alive, well and prosperous in 2016,” said Dawn Keezer, longtime director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. “It might be our best year ever.”
What’s Keeping Pennsylvania From Passing a Budget?
Governing, January 2016
Pennsylvania offers proof that states are not immune from the partisanship that has crippled Congress and the federal government. Just as in Washington, lawmakers in Harrisburg last year strained to keep the government’s lights on and the bills paid. And just as in Washington, the forces that led to gridlock are deeply ingrained and unlikely to disappear soon. It’s not a comforting prospect for those dependent on the state for crucial assistance, particularly schools, which are at the heart of the recent impasse.
Wolf vs. Republicans: Who are the real adults in the room?
PennLive, December 31, 2015
If the Democrats and Republicans have anything in common right now, it's that they all think they are the adults in the room.
Wolf vetoes part of budget, OKs school cash
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 29, 2015
Governor Tom Wolf says he’ll release funds so schools and social services can remain open
A Pa. budget deal for Christmas?
Philly.com, December 23, 2015
In a dramatic twist, the Pennsylvania House reversed course Tuesday and positioned itself to vote on the $30.8 billion state spending plan backed by Gov. Wolf and Senate Republicans, setting up a possible sprint to end the months-long budget impasse by Christmas.
House abruptly changes course on state budget
Post-Gazette, December 22, 2015
Following a somewhat chaotic afternoon Tuesday of procedural maneuvering on the state House floor, a potential resolution to the state's long-running budget impasse appears to be back on the table.
House Republicans and Democrats unlikely allies in state pension battle
Post-Gazette, December 22, 2015
A recent House vote on a proposed overhaul of the state’s pension systems for state and public school employees had groups that usually oppose each other — public sector unions and conservative organizations that favor less government spending — working on the same side, but for opposite reasons.
Divisions deepen over state budget impasse
Post-Gazette, December 21, 2015
The fissure that opened over the weekend in the plan to end the Pennsylvania budget impasse seemed to deepen Monday, as House Republicans began to advance a partial-year spending plan that Gov. Tom Wolf promised to veto.
House GOP, On An Island, Readies Stopgap Budget
90.5 WESA, December 21, 2015
Governor Tom Wolf warned House Republicans on Monday not to bother with a short-term budget, saying such a measure would receive his veto. The House GOP is charging ahead anyway, positioning an 11-month interim budget for a final vote this week before the Christmas holiday.
On the Pennsylvania budget, no one's happy
Public Opinion, December 21, 2015
One frustrated writer, Peter Greene, frowns upon the budget delay by calling it not an impasse or crisis but, rather, a "failure so stupid it is raising the collective blood pressure of the entire state."
After pension overhaul collapse, Pa. legislators regroup in battle to pass budget
Post-Gazette, December 21, 2015
How exactly Pennsylvania’s nearly six-month budget impasse will end remained unclear Sunday, the day after the collapse of a pension overhaul bill that was part of a deal many hoped would end more than 170 days of state budget gridlock.
Budget setback leaves lawmakers with no clear next step
WITF, December 21, 2015
Top state lawmakers are at a loss for a way to end Pennsylvania's nearly six-month budget stalemate after a tentative agreement was blown to bits over the weekend.
Bills address future state budget standoffs
Republican Herald, December 20, 2015
The state budget debacle has produced an assortment of bills designed to prevent future stalemates or mitigate the impact if one occurs again.
Pa. budget deal slips with pension reform defeat in the House; stopgap plan comes new possibility
PennLive, December 19, 2015
With a public pension employee reform bill resoundingly defeated in the state House Saturday, House Majority Leader David Reed, R-Indiana County, conceded the proposed "framework" budget is likely off-track.
Opinion: Lawmakers should have to forgo their pay for failure to do their jobs
Post-Gazette, December 18, 2015
What gives them the right to hold people and necessary programs hostage? Of course, the programs that suffer are the ones affecting the children, the disabled, the infirm, the poor and, eventually, the veterans. Their political base doesn’t fall in that category, so they’re willing to sit back and wait for all their demands to be met.
State budget bickering continues with no end in sight
Post-Gazette, December 18, 2015
Major issues in Pennsylvania’s budget impasse remained unresolved Thursday, with no consensus emerging on a tax package to pay for increased state spending and the postponement of a House plan to take up a public-pension bill that is part of the negotiations.
Bishop calls for state budget action
Diocese of Pittsburgh, December 17, 2015
Bishop David Zubik read the following statement at a news conference Dec. 11 on the state budget impasse. He appeared with several business and civic leaders at the offices of Community Human Services in Pittsburgh's Strip District.
Western Pennsylvania loses out on film work amid state budget impasse
Tribune-Review, December 17, 2015
Pittsburghers won't be featured in many movies until the Legislature passes a proposed state tax credit, film industry insiders said.
Raising taxes could put your job at risk, GOP senator warns House Republicans
PennLive, December 17, 2015
Sen. Scott Wagner is telling his Republican legislative colleagues the "code word is no" when it comes to increased spending and taxes.
Do Not Enter: Local TV & Film Industry Lags Under Weight Of State Budget Impasse
90.5 WESA, December 16, 2015
Due to the budget impasse, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin cannot legally approve any future disbursements of the $60 million film tax credit. Legislators are now nearly six months overdue.”
Dems cast Turzai as villain in Pa. budget gridlock
Post-Gazette, December 16, 2015
Mr. Turzai allowed a vote on the House’s alternate budget to the compromise framework hammered out by the Wolf administration and party leaders, and he canceled sessions Friday and Saturday that many members hoped would result in a budget. Mr. Turzai, considered to be more conservative than House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, is increasingly becoming the focus as frustration grows over the impasse.
House & Senate Tussle Over Pension Payments
90.5 WESA, December 16, 2015
The pension proposal is considered a critical piece of a state budget deal. Senate Republicans have said pension reform must be part of the budget discussions. The legislative dispute over trimming pension contributions is one of many unresolved issues in a sprawling budget negotiation.
Superintendent: Philly Schools Could Close After January Due to Budget Impasse
NBC Philadelphia, December 15, 2015
Pennsylvania's long budget stalemate could soon make it impossible for some of the state's poorest school districts, including Philadelphia, to get another loan to stay open. Superintendent William Hite announced Tuesday the future of the Philadelphia School District is uncertain due to the state budget impasse.
Budget impasse means some school borrowing in jeopardy, Standard & Poor's says
Post-Gazette, December 15, 2015
The months-long Pennsylvania budget impasse has convinced one of the main credit ratings agencies that state education payments are no longer a reliable source of funding.
PA Governor Says 'It’s Time To Stop Negotiating'
90.5 WESA, December 15, 2015
The House’s speaker, Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is demanding changes to a budget proposal passed by the Senate a week ago. His caucus says the $30.8 billion plan spends far too much money. But Wolf said he won’t stray from the Senate’s proposal, the result of a tentative deal reached before Thanksgiving.
Pa. House GOP member: 'There aren't enough of us' to block tax hike
Tribune-Review, December 14, 2015
Republicans who control the House met behind closed doors Monday to discuss a $30.8 billion Senate-approved budget supported by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, with some GOP members vowing to fight and others predicting the five-month fight may soon be over.
Food bank forced to cover $800,000 in costs so far due to PA budget impasse
WTAE, December 14, 2015
The food bank says it is tapping in to its operating budget by about $137,000 a month, to shield its service partners and the hungry people they help from the impact of the state budget situation.
Bad brew: Wonder why Pennsylvania's state budget is six months late? Here's a few top reasons
PennLive, December 14, 2015
Pennsylvania's state budget is now going on six months late, and while there are some tentative signs that the last issues are now at least being teed up for closure, this is a cycle that many will never forget. It's earning a place in state government infamy alongside 1977 (a brawl on the House floor), 1991 (the largest tax increase in state history), 2003 (Rendell meets the Republicans) and 2009 (Rendell's last big ask).
In the Compromise Budget, A Restoration of Human Services Funding
Secretary of Human Services, December 13, 2015
After years of reductions in funding for human services programs, the 2015-16 budget agreement takes significant steps to reverse course and move Pennsylvania forward.
Pa. budget agreement unlikely to happen this weekend; schools, counties borrow nearly $1B
PennLive, December 12, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature appear headed for another week of grappling over how to end a five-month budget stalemate while pressure ratchets up on them amid growing social services layoffs, threats of school shutdowns and the looming end of the calendar year.
Some preschools shutting down until more state money becomes available
Tribune-Review, December 11, 2015
The Pittsburgh Foundation’s CEO and President Max King lamented that unlike Pennsylvania's impasse of 2009 — when state employees and lawmakers went unpaid until a budget was passed — this time around, “just the vulnerable populations in Pennsylvania are getting hurt.”
Nonprofit leaders warn lack of budget will 'release a torrent of human suffering'
WTAE, December 11, 2015
Maxwell King, CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, has an idea he believes would help prevent future state budget impasses. “A new law in Pennsylvania that says July 1, no budget: liquor stores close,” King said. “You have a budget in two days.”
Pittsburgh leaders to the Legislature: Pass a budget!
Post-Gazette, December 11, 2015
Maxwell King, president and chief executive of the Pittsburgh Foundation, said the aim of community leaders and nonprofit representatives who spoke publicly Friday was to send a message to the Legislature and administration in Harrisburg that, “Enough is enough.”
Organization Leaders Tell Budget Makers 'Enough Is Enough'
90.5 WESA, December 11, 2015
Enough is enough. That was the message from Pittsburgh leaders gathered Friday in the Strip District rallying against the state budget stalemate.
Mon-Yough food banks struggle to meet need as state budget impasse drags on
Tribune-Review, December 11, 2015
Despite a state budget impasse now in its sixth month, some things continue, such as hunger.
Pa. budget stalemate cost approaches critical mass
Reading Eagle, December 11, 2015
The collapse of a second agreement between Gov. Tom Wolf and top lawmakers threatens to extend the state government budget stalemate deeper into December, its sixth month.
Westmoreland County Food Bank forced to cut some items
Tribune-Review, December 10, 2015
Agencies across Pennsylvania are feeling the repercussions of a state budget that is more than five months overdue. Without a spending plan in place, those groups are left without the state funding on which they rely heavily to provide services to the public.
House GOP tries again to resolve Pennsylvania standoff with own budget
Tribune-Review, December 8, 2015
Widening a Republican rift in the Pennsylvania Legislature, House Republicans unilaterally attacked the state government's 5-month-old budget stalemate with a spending plan of their own Tuesday, rejecting a bipartisan Senate vote a day earlier on a rival approach endorsed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
After another tentative agreement falters, uncertainty returns to long-overdue Pa. budget
NewsWorks, December 8, 2015
For the second time in a month, a tentative deal to end Pennsylvania's five month-long budget impasse has fallen apart.
Easter Seals lays off 22 amid state budget dispute
Post-Gazette, December 8, 2015
Easter Seals Western and Central Pennsylvania temporarily laid off 22 workers Monday, a cost-saving move forced by the state budget impasse, the West View-based nonprofit said.
Westmoreland libraries contend with lack of state budget
Tribune-Review, December 8, 2015
The Westmoreland Federated Library System, which provides services and support to 24 county libraries, will be out of money by the end of January unless a state budget is passed soon.
Senate sends state budget to unknown fate in House
Post-Gazette, December 7, 2015
The Pennsylvania Senate today approved a state budget, supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, for the fiscal year that began more than five months ago, while House Republicans moved forward with an alternate plan.
Opinion: Charities should demand the best budget for the poor
Post-Gazette, December 6, 2015
Charities and nonprofit organizations should stand with Pennsylvania citizens who will be negatively affected by an increase in sales taxes, namely everyone from the middle class down to poorest of the poor.
Students hit hard by budget impasse
Public Opinion, December 6, 2015
Due to the lack of a budget, college students have not been able to use the money that had previously been allocated to them for their loans. Because they don’t have the money they had been promised, and budgeted for this semester, several are now having to choose how to redistribute their funds. That is leading to having to make difficult decisions. Some have been forced to choose between rent and food.
Politics trumps poor kids in Keystone budget impasse
Watchdog.org, December 4, 2015
While politicians slug it out over a new budget in Harrisburg, students across the commonwealth are caught in the bureaucratic crossfire. Cutting off those funding streams is also having a serious impact on private schools that serve some of Pennsylvania’s poorest neighborhoods, forcing the Neighborhood Academy in Pittsburgh and others to consider shutting down.
Budget impasse puts Westmoreland County in financial bind
Tribune-Review, December 4, 2015
Westmoreland County may have to borrow as much as $10 million early next year to keep the government functioning should the state's budget impasse continue, commissioners said Thursday.
Community Organizations Band Together To Pressure Budget Makers
90.5 WESA, December 3, 2015
Max King, president of The Pittsburgh Foundation, said he wants there to be a hard deadline in which no state employees gets paid until a budget is in place. The state is supposed to have a new budget by July 1 each year.
State may have budget deal soon, Wolf says
Post-Gazette, December 3, 2015
Pennsylvania may be down to its last week or two without a 2015-16 state budget. In a Thursday appearance Downtown, Gov. Tom Wolf said he expects to finalize by mid-December a long-overdue budget deal with Republican lawmakers. Senate Republicans are hoping for the same timeline, said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre.
Pennsylvania budget planners say end in sight
Tribune-Review, December 3, 2015
In the sixth month of a state budget stalemate, lawmakers may make a final push this weekend to agree on the details of historic education funding, expanding the sales tax base, reforming public pensions and making wine and liquor more readily available.
Maxwell King: Statewide Coalition of Foundations and Nonprofits Pushing for Changes in Budget-Making Process (audio)
90.5 WESA, December 2-3, 2015
Additional portions of WESA’s interview with Maxwell King are available here, here and here.
Federal government tells state to release funds to domestic violence shelters
Post-Gazette, December 2, 2015
As Pennsylvania’s budget impasse drags into its sixth month, there was a sliver of good news this week for domestic violence shelters as $1.4 million in federal funds that had been held up by the stalemate was released after a federal directive.
Budget impasse forces 15 pre-K programs to close
PennLive, December 2, 2015
With budget talks dragging on in the Pennsylvania capitol, more early childhood centers certified under Pennsylvania's state-subsidized pre-kindergarten program are closing without state aid.
Few details as Pa. budget impasse lingers
Philly.com, December 2, 2015
"It's just gone to hell," said Maxwell E.P. King, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation. King, a former editor of The Inquirer, said his organization and more than 30 others had agreed to join forces and figure out if they can help prevent future stalemates. Options could include lobbying for new budgeting rules, he said, or exploring various types of legal action.
Budget Talks Consider Expanding Sales Tax
90.5 WESA, December 2, 2015
Rank-and-file state House lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week hoping for specifics of a budget deal.They left the building Tuesday evening disappointed.
Erie County Library system to cut hours due to state budget impasse
Erie Times-News, December 2, 2015
County officials announced that starting Dec. 13, the county's library system will cut 11 hours at the Blasco Library and three hours each at three of its branches to reduce costs. "To restrict the hours at the library, especially when politicians in Harrisburg can't do their job ... the public is paying the price," said Jud Sackett, a retired maintenance foreman and avid reader.
State budget update: 'We have a lot of tough decisions to make over the next week,' Reed says
PennLive, December 1, 2015
It appears the state House is ready to start the process of ending the five-month-old state budget impasse that has interrupted money from flowing to school districts, human service agencies and other vendors who do business with the commonwealth.
Arts Organizations Keep Pressure On PA Budget Makers As They Mull Ticket Tax
90.5 WESA, December 1, 2015
As state legislators in Harrisburg continue to wrestle with a framework budget proposal, rumors are surfacing that a sales tax on admission to arts and cultural institutions could be on the table.
County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania seeking options for budget stalemate
Republican Herald, December 1, 2015
The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania is exploring legal options to end the six-month state budget impasse while local service providers and their clients are being urged to contact state legislators as they are being most affected by the lack of funding.
Abuse victims turned away as Pa. budget impasse halts funding
PennLive, December 1, 2015
Without a state budget, Survivors is lacking the 80 percent of its $650,000 budget that comes from state and federal funding. While federal funds were released months ago, the state is in charge of distributing them and hasn't done so during the stalemate. As a result, Survivors has turned away 105 adults, including eight pregnant women, and 153 children since July. "If this impasse is not resolved quickly, I fear there will be a bodycount. We're tasked with doing lifesaving work, and we can't do it right now," Hamrick said.
PA Budget Stalemate Won’t Disrupt Hunting Season
90.5 WESA, November 30, 2015
The state budget is nearly a full five months late, and state lawmakers say they’ll return after Thanksgiving to work until they have a deal – but they won’t be back bright and early Monday morning. The House is holding a non-voting session Monday, and some Republicans say they might be called back Monday evening. That would let them hunt all morning and clean up in time to get to Harrisburg. Some lawmakers say they’re not above missing the first day of buck season, but they don’t want to come to Harrisburg just to make a grand gesture when leadership hasn’t hammered out a budget agreement for them to consider.
Colleges Aid Students Impacted By Budget Impasse
Reading Eagle, November 29, 2015
The state has not released Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency grants — which help students pay for tuition, books, rent and transportation — to colleges because of the ongoing state budget impasse. Some colleges have used reserve funds to help students and have not asked students pay back what the state was supposed to cover for the fall semester.
How much is left of Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal?
PennLive, November 29, 2015
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders of the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature say they expect final budget legislation to emerge for votes this week. Here is a look at what Wolf proposed in his first budget plan in March and whether it ended up in his agreement with Republicans
Budget standoff has state's food banks looking to hunters for help
Post-Gazette, November 27, 2015
From Pennsylvania’s forests and fields, hunters will be sharing their bounty with food banks. A nonprofit called Hunters Sharing the Harvest anticipates it will reach a milestone this year — 1 million pounds of donated venison. The contribution will come at a good time because of the lean year food banks and charities are facing due to the state budget impasse.
Editorial: No-compromise budget stance is damaging Pa.
Lehigh Valley Live, November 25, 2015
Things are so grim in this five-month budget standoff that counties are preparing to sue the state. Nonprofit social service agencies are struggling. Some school districts are discussing shutdown plans.
Nonprofits urge tax credit action
York Daily Record, November 24, 2015
Nonprofits around Pennsylvania are raising the alarm that millions of dollars businesses donate in exchange for tax credits could be lost if the state doesn't soon approve them, something the governor's office says is being held up by the budget impasse.
Pa. budget negotiations head into home stretch after another temporary disruption to budget framework
PennLive, November 24, 2015
The "framework" is back on. After a significant bump in the road that led to short-lived threats of a veto override attempt Tuesday afternoon, Republican legislative leaders emerged from a meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf with fresh commitments to strive toward a final, negotiated state budget agreement.
No sign state budget impasse will end soon
Morning Call, November 24, 2015
A two-day whirlwind of accusations, counter-accusations and a threat to override Gov. Tom Wolf's veto of a short-term spending bill yielded no firm assurances Tuesday night that Pennsylvania's five-month budget stalemate would end soon.
'It's made eating difficult': College students see fallout of budget impasse
PennLive, November 24, 2015
The ongoing battle over the budget in Harrisburg has held up state grants awarded to students through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. More than 150,000 students rely on the grants to cover everything from books to food and rent.
Gov. Wolf says budget agreement in 'deep peril'
Post-Gazette, November 23, 2015
Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders acknowledged Monday that they have not reached agreement on how the state should lower local property taxes under a framework intended to end Pennsylvania’s five-monthlong budget impasse.
Pa. budget impasse holds up $420 million in student financial aid
NewsWorks, November 23, 2015
Pennsylvania has been without a state budget for nearly six months now. Social service agencies are worried about shutting down. School districts are borrowing huge sums of money. And in-state college students are anxiously awaiting news about their state- funded financial aid.
PA Budget Impasse Threatens Pittsburgh Neighborhood Plan
Next City, November 23, 2015
“It’s the only community in Pittsburgh that has a YMCA, YWCA, Carnegie Public Library, community college campus and health center all within a few blocks of each other,” says Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block (OBB), a community-based organization in Homewood, established in 1971. “That lends to the potential for Homewood to grow.”
One Nonprofit Dreads Another Month Without A State Budget
90.5 WESA, November 23, 2015
At the Survivors Inc. domestic violence shelter off the main drag in Gettysburg, the hardship of the state budget impasse is quantified with two numbers: 70 and 111. That’s how many adults and children, respectively, had been turned away by the shelter since the standstill began in July, through September.
State budget impasse jeopardizing private school stipends
Post-Gazette, November 23, 2015
As the state budget impasse continues, concerns are growing that tax credit programs that provide up to $150 million in scholarships for students in grades K-12 statewide could be eliminated this year.
Nonprofits go to Harrisburg to push for budget passage
Pittsburgh Business Times, November 23, 2015
A coalition of nonprofits and school districts across the commonwealth are gathering in Harrisburg on Monday as part of The Stand for Pennsylvanians Day Campaign, telling the collective story of citizens directly impacted by the budget impasse. The Pittsburgh Foundation is among the organizers, which also include the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the United Way of Pennsylvania and the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.
Lawmakers pledge to skip swanky Pennsylvania Society gala in NYC if budget deal not struck
Tribune-Review, November 22, 2015
Lawmakers don't want to be spotted partying at swanky hotel receptions while schools and nonprofits struggle to stay afloat without state funding during a budget stalemate that reached its 146th day Monday. Marc Cherna, Allegheny County's director of human services, said the budget impasse is delaying $35 million a month that should be going to county-contracted domestic violence shelters, aging services, and children and youth programs.
Westmoreland County's $42M surplus nearly gone
Tribune-Review, November 20, 2015
A healthy surplus of nearly $42 million on the books four years ago is close to gone in a preliminary budget released Thursday by Westmoreland County commissioners.
Pittsburgh loses TV series ‘American Gods’ over state budget impasse
Post-Gazette, November 18, 2015
The upcoming Starz series “American Gods,” based on Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel of the same name and produced by Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies,” “Hannibal”), has opted not to film in Pittsburgh due to the budget impasse which is delaying approval of the project’s film tax credit.
Winners, losers in Pa.' s proposed budget framework
GoErie.com, November 18, 2015
No state budget has put taxpayers on edge for more than five months, particularly those who work in education, in county government and in the nonprofit world. And the rest of the state's residents still don't know what's going on and how it might affect their pocketbooks.
Audio: Maxwell King on the budget impasse and its impact on nonprofits
WHYY, November 16, 2015
Click the link above to hear an audio clip.
Budget stalemate squeezing Berks nonprofits
Reading Eagle, November 17, 2015
A recent study by the Berks County Community Foundation found that Berks nonprofits reported a wide range of circumstances, from being able to use rainy day reserves to continue as normal to having no choice but to shutter programs and lay off employees.
Wolf: December budget 'more realistic'
Philly.com, November 17, 2015
Although the months-long impasse over a state budget seems poised to end, a final spending plan probably won't be enacted until December, Gov. Wolf said Monday.
Stalled bills would change landscape for tardy budgeting
WITF, November 13, 2015
In hindsight, Maxwell King thinks late budgets got a lot more tolerable for state politicians in 2009. That's when a court ruling allowed state employees to continue being paid during a stalemate. King, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation, which supports nonprofits, said the state Supreme Court decision narrowed the harm caused by frozen state funding.
Sexual And Domestic Violence Victim Services Among Those Impacted By State Budget Stalemate
90.5 WESA, November 16, 2015
VOICe is one of many organizations participating in a social media campaign started by the Pittsburgh Foundation and United Way of Allegheny County. #PAPeopleCount highlights stories of those impacted by the budget impasse in an effort to urge lawmakers to pass it. While services are still being offered, Artman said VOICe is essentially operating in crisis mode at the moment.
Editorial: Forward progress: Is the season of agreement afoot in Harrisburg?
Post-Gazette, November 11, 2015
With the state budget impasse grinding into its fifth month, the governor and legislative leaders say they have agreed to a tentative framework for next year’s budget. It’s about time.
Exclusive: $60M TV production in jeopardy over state budget delays
Pittsburgh Business Times, November 10, 2015
Pittsburgh could soon lose out on a $60 million production of a new television drama based on the Neil Gaiman novel “American Gods” if the Legislature doesn’t soon fund the state's film tax credit program.
Local impact of budget impasse growing
The Bradford Era, November 10, 2015
While talks of a compromise are encouraging, without a budget in place, the state hasn’t been able to release much needed funds for counties, agencies and schools.
Opinion: Budget impasse is hurting seniors
Post-Gazette, November 10, 2015
The Pennsylvania Lottery proudly proclaims that it “benefits older Pennsylvanians every day,” but this commitment has never been more threatened. The state budget impasse is into its fifth month, winners large and small of the Pennsylvania Lottery continue to collect jackpots, our state representatives continue to get paid, but lottery payments to senior-service organizations have stopped. Will our commitment to helping older Pennsylvanians fall victim to political gamesmanship?
Pennsylvania's budget moves forward
Post-Gazette, November 9, 2015
Legislative leaders and the governor’s office said Monday that they have tentatively agreed to a framework for an end to the impasse that has delayed the Pennsylvania state budget more than four months.
Loans provide raft for nonprofits during Pennsylvania's budget impasse
Tribune-Review, November 7, 2015
With Pennsylvania's budget stalemate in its fifth month — and no deal in sight —emergency funding options are proving essential for nonprofit human service providers to keep from folding or halting services until the state pays its bills. The Forbes Funds, the nonprofit consulting arm of The Pittsburgh Foundation, has joined with Staunton Farm Foundation to set aside $50,000 in grants so nonprofits can pay interest costs on loans taken out because of the impasse. The funding is limited to $5,000 per organization, and nonprofits must provide mental health or substance abuse treatments to be eligible.
Philanthropies campaign to protect human services in budget deal
Leaders to document damage from state budget war;
Call for permanent reform of budget process to protect human services
PITTSBURGH, PA, Nov. 11, 2015 — With the Pennsylvania budget standoff now dragging into its fifth month, The Pittsburgh Foundation and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania are calling upon human services nonprofits and residents connected to them to join in #PApeoplecount. The statewide social media campaign has been created to demonstrate the vital nature of services and the damage incurred from these nonprofits being caught up in a months-long budget standoff. While the organizations’ leaders are heartened that the latest news reports indicate there may be progress toward an agreement, the campaign is proceeding in order to influence negotiators to deliver results benefiting human services nonprofits as quickly as possible. The leaders also are calling on state officials to reform the budget process.