PA Senate Hits Restart On Budget Negotiations

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The Pennsylvania Senate has overwhelmingly rejected a no-new-taxes plan for funding the state budget.

Their latest inane solution (after putting slot machines in bars, clubs, airports, rest homes, etc.), is putting them in every household (internet gambling).

House and Senate leaders seem to agree any revenue package can rely on at least $200 million in one-time license fees from what they call "gaming". "I have said repeatedly for three years that we must responsibly fund the budget with recurring revenues", he said. We're going to go on recess with a six-hour call today, but I'll be here and staff will be here, and hopefully we'll get a resolution.

Governor Tom Wolf has warned about it for months...and now, Standard and Poor's has downgraded Pennsylvania's credit as the state's budget remains unbalanced.

"If an agreement has not progressed by next week", the governor's statement said, "I will be forced to take further steps to manage this situation".

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House leaders suggested the downgrade could help bring lawmakers together to address major cost drivers in the state budget. But the House has opposed the tax increases.

The GOP plan approved by the House last week would have seized money from various reserve accounts to close a projected $2.2 billion budget gap.

"This rating agency for years cited the public pension system as a top reason for concern, and this year a bipartisan pension reform plan passed the legislature and is now law - a plan that is fully actuarially sound and will save the commonwealth billions over the next 30 years". But, in July, House Republican leaders pulled out of negotiations over a revenue bill, and serious talks have yet to restart. Instead, year after year, budgets passed with Republican majorities have been balanced with one-year revenues, phantom funds, and other budgetary gimmicks.

"No doubt some Republican legislators and some advocates will say that the real cause of the budget deficit is overspending".

If the General Assembly had enacted the modest personal income tax increase Governor Wolf proposed in February 2017, not only would the budget be balanced this year, but there would be nearly no carryover deficit from last year. Neither has a say in approving the state budget.