A budget deal between the four legislative caucuses and Governor Rendell was reached yesterday.
The agreed-to spending plan, which must still find approval from rank-and-file members in the House and Senate, would spend about $28.05 billion, nearly $1 billion less than the Governor’s original request for a $29 billion budget. If enacted, the new budget would spend about six-tenths of one percent more than the current fiscal year, which allocated about $27.9 billion.
While the agreement was reach, there are still potential hurdles. In particular, the budget assumes $850 million in extended FMAP funding from the federal government, which has yet to be approved. The Governor indicated that if FMAP money is not forthcoming, the state layoffs needed to offset that deficit would be devastating. Also, groups receiving funding should understand that if FMAP does not come through, there will have to be cuts made to many programs and human services.
The plan also calls for implementation of a natural gas severance tax (the details of which have yet to be worked out) by October 1st, and does not include any new or increased taxes on tobacco products, elimination of the Vendor Sales Tax Rebate, and would reject the adoption of combined reporting in Pennsylvania.
Thank you to our friends at Capitol Ideas for providing a complete list of budget line items. Below are just some of the cuts to programs and services:
- Women’s Commission received a cut of $15,000
- Pre-K Counts received a cut of $1,172,000
- Adult and Family Literacy received a cut of $2,800,000
- New Choices/New Options received a cut of $300,000
- County Child Welfare received a cut of $2,767,000
- Child Care Assistance received a cut of $1,094,000
- Industry Partnerships received a cut of $355,000
- Legal Services received a cut of $25,000
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and others have reported that the final budget also includes the following cuts:
- 7.5 percent cut ($15.3 million) to Executive Offices
- 11.7 percent cut ($7.9 million) to agriculture programs
- 10 percent cut ($9.2 million) to the Department of Labor and Industry
- 9.2 percent cut ($14.6 million) to the Department of Environmental Protection
- 11 percent cut ($10.2 million) to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
- 9.1 percent cut ($5.5 million) to library funding
The Potential Timeline
Today, members of the House will be in caucus this morning where it is assumed that they will discuss the line items in the budget.
Also this morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet. They will either amend the general fund bill that passed the House in March or move it to the floor to be amended there. Generally, the Senate has a six-hour rule on amended bills, which would have to be waived in order for this bill to be voted on today.
If the bill passes out of the Senate it will then go to the floor of the House to be voted on. In order for the House to vote on the bill today, they would also have to waive a rule that requires a 24-hour waiting period on bills that come from the Senate. If all the above happens and the House passes the bill then it would go to the Governor for his signature tonight. If signed it would be the first on-time budget for Pennsylvania in eight years.
There is Still Time to Contact Your Legislators
While an agreement may have been reached, it is still important to reach out to legislators to let them know what programs are crucial and cannot see anymore cuts.
Please contact your legislators and urge them to continue to remember the needs of all families in this budget, especially around needs of the workforce and child welfare.
Rally Against Budget Cuts
Even if a budget passes today, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition is holding a rally against budget cuts.
WHEN: Thursday July 1, Noon
WHERE: Philadelphia City Hall, Dilworth Plaza (15th Street Side)
The Vote for Homes! Coalition is marching to the rally. If you would like to join in the march, meet the Coalition at Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue at 11:00. For more information, contact Jennine Miller at 215-232-7272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To RSVP for the rally, contact Kate Atkins at (215) 563-5848 x 16 or email@example.com.