Working to provide financial relief to school districts and social service agencies impacted by the prolonged budget impasse, the Senate approved a three-bill “stop gap” budget package on Friday (September 18) and sent the measures to the House of Representatives for consideration, according to Senator Elder Vogel.
The move is the latest effort by Republicans to help schools, counties, municipalities, agencies and contractors that saw their state payments end on July 1 after Governor Wolf vetoed House Bill 1192 (the Fiscal Year 2015-16 general fund spending bill) on June 30 — almost immediately after its passage by the General Assembly.
Senator Vogel said the root of the two-and-a-half month budget impasse is the Governor’s proposed $3.8 billion tax increase, which has little support in our local communities.
“Obviously there are differences between Republicans and Democrats. The Governor wants a huge tax increase to fund more programs that I don’t think we can afford because our economy hasn’t come out of the recession totally,” said Senator Vogel. “As I go around my district and talk to people, they don’t want their taxes raised. More and more people come up to me every day and say ‘Don’t raise our taxes, Don’t raise our taxes because we’re being taxed enough as it is’.”
The three-bill package — Senate Bill 1000 (Stop Gap Appropriations Act), Senate Bill 1001 (Fiscal Code Budget Implementation) and House Bill 224 (Public School Code) – provides $11.2 billion in state allocations. That represents one-third (four months) of the state funding as authorized by HB 1192 with limited exceptions.
The stop gap budget also allocates the federal money Pennsylvania administers for schools and local governments.
“Now that we have had a budget impasse going on for over two months, a lot of service programs for the elderly and disabled are being hurt. They don’t have the money to continue to fund the programs. Some have to take out loans,” Senator Vogel said. “It’s having a huge impact in my district.”
While most expenditures in the stop gap budget are set at one-third of the amount in HB 1192, SB 1000 provides:
- 100 percent of the state funding ($2.8 million) in HB 1192 to combat Avian Influenza.
- 100 percent of the state funding ($5 million) in HB 1192 for Regional Events Security related to the upcoming papal visit.
- 100 percent of HB 1192 funding for debt service.
- 50 percent of the state funding in HB 1192 for PHEAA, representing one semester’s worth of state funding.
- 50 percent of state funding in HB 1192 for County Child Welfare to meet requirements set by state law.
CONTACT: Cheryl Schriner