Still no State budget
Gov. Wolf tried a new tactic this week– smaller meetings with fewer key players, but the results were the same– no progress on the budget.
Republicans announced the Senate would be returning a week earlier than planned– September 14, 15, 16, but they were met with immediate criticism because September 14 also happens to be the beginning of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.
Late Friday, media reported the Senate schedule is now uncertain, but it is not likely to meet September 14 or 15. No official announcement has been made yet.
What the Senate will do if they come back to Harrisburg no one seems to know. Will they try to pass a stopgap budget? Will they put the Governor’s budget up for a vote like the House did earlier in the year? Will they attempt to override the Governor’s veto on parts of the budget like the House tried?
Or, do they want to just look busy? We’ll find out when they get here.
The House still plans to return September 21, 22 and 23, although September 23 is Yom Kippur.
State taxes brought in more revenue in August this year than last, but the Independent Fiscal Office reported Fiscal Year-To-Date revenues were off by 1 percent, about $34 million, small potatoes in the scheme of a $29 billion+ state budget.
Meanwhile, there were more stories this week about school districts and counties dipping into their own local tax revenue to fund programs normally handled by the state because of the budget impasse.
The School Employees Pension Fund also told school districts, budget impasse or no, they were still expected to pay their local share of pension costs on time.
Two credit rating agencies commented on the budget stalemate Friday, with Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s saying they could downgrade some schools districts, community colleges and towns because of uncertainty over whether the state would provide funding to cover debt service payments.
With the Capitol Building not really being used for anything lately, PennLive.com reported Friday the Capitol Rotunda has had a good year booking wedding ceremonies– 41 so far this year, with another 34 set for next year.
The cost is very reasonable, about $275– $200 for the Capitol Police security and about $100 to purchase a $1 million general liability insurance policy. You can even rent the chairs from the state for $1 each.
Maybe the state can look into charging more for weddings as a revenue generator? If folks can agree on it that is.
(From Crisci Associates, PA Capitol Digest, September 4, 2015).
Senate (unless sooner recalled)
September 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30. September 14-15 may be cancelled.
October 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
November 16, 17, 18
December 7, 8, 9
House (unless sooner recalled)
September 21, 22, 28 (Non-Voting), 29, 30
October 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
November 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 (Non-Voting)
December 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16
(From Crisci Associates, PA Capitol Digest).
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