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Despite ‘Productive’ Negotiations, State Budget Now 10 Days Overdue

by Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Negotiations on Pennsylvania’s next budget continued without a resolution or public progress on Wednesday despite optimism from the state House budget chief that key bills would go to votes.

The House and Senate both adjourned until Thursday morning without votes. The budget, which was supposed to be signed into law before the end of the fiscal year June 30, is now 10 days overdue.

House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) told reporters early Wednesday afternoon that late-night negotiations Tuesday evening into the wee hours of Wednesday had been productive.

State Senate and House leaders and administration officials have been working since last month to reach consensus on the final form of the budget to send to Gov. Josh Shapiro for his signature.

Shapiro in March proposed a $48.3 billion spending plan that included increases in education, public transportation, and economic development funding. It also included revenue from the legalization of cannabis for adult recreational use and the regulation and taxation of skill games.

Although the House passed legislation to provide an additional $5.1 billion to the state’s less wealthy school districts over the next seven years to comply with a court order to resolve unconstitutional funding disparities, education funding remained a central subject of negotiations earlier this week.

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) last week said Republicans in the upper chamber support a change to the measures by which the funding would be distributed. Instead of poverty data gathered by the state Education Department, Pittman proposed using U.S. Census data. Education advocates said that would result in an inaccurate picture of poverty in public schools.

Leaders in both chambers have been largely silent on details of the negotiations.

“Good progress is taking place, but I continue to underscore nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” Pittman said in a statement Tuesday. “As we come closer to completion, the Senate looks forward to collaborating with the House on how best to advance all necessary components of the budget.”

Harris said Wednesday that there is an agreement on the general appropriations bill, which outlines how much would be allocated to each program, department or agency.

Harris’ spokesperson said late Tuesday night that Shapiro’s office had requested House leaders to hold off on a possible vote on the GA bill while negotiations continued.

“Last night was very, very productive. We were here to the wee hours of the morning,” Harris said.

Harris said he hoped to hold votes on budget bills on Wednesday but the House and Senate both adjourned mid-afternoon and were scheduled to return to session Thursday morning.

 

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and X.

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