Pennsylvania mulls last-minute budget details ahead of deadline

July 7

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. (Matt Rourke/AP)

bill proposing several additions to Pennsylvania’s budget will be considered by its legislature Tuesday, just days before Gov. Tom Corbett’s deadline to sign.

SB1043 calls for billions of dollars to be used for educational and health programs, as well as provides funds for natural gas drilling research. Pennsylvania Democrats challenged the bill’s constitutionality last week, arguing its hodgepodge nature violates a rule that bills be limited to one topic, according to the Associated Press.

Corbett has 10 days to either sign or veto the budget from when it arrived on his desk July 1, or it automatically becomes law. He initially praised the budget’s “significant investments” in education, jobs and human services, but he declined to sign.

It leaves pensions, one of the largest expenses to the commonwealth and our school districts, on the table, leaving the weight on Pennsylvania taxpayers and perpetuating the tug of war over state funding every single year,” he said in a statement. “I am withholding signing the budget passed by the General Assembly while I deliberate its impact on the people of Pennsylvania.”

Democrats unanimously voted against the budget in June, hoping to include higher taxes on the natural gas industry and the sale of tobacco, the Associated Press reports.  “We’ll start to see that problem manifest itself in, I think, January, February or March of next year, and it’s going to lead to … anywhere from a $2.5 billion to a $2 billion structural deficit that we’re going to have to deal with,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) told the Associated Press.

Pennsylvania is one of 11 states with lower revenue than originally projected, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In May, Standard & Poor’s said it could downgrade the state’s bond rating if efforts weren’t made to address budget deficits and pension liabilities.

 

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