Vital funding is running dangerously low for most of the state’s agencies, with some taking out loans to continue providing services and paying employees. Many non-profit organizations that rely on state funding have had to scale back operations with money drying up.
But now the state legislature is willing to act.
Senate Bills 1000 and 1001 were introduced this week to restore essential funding. If passed, SB 1000 would provide funding retroactively from July 1 through the end of October, according to a report by Chris Comisac of Capitolwire.
The bills represent about $11 billion in proposed spending and are based on recommended amounts in House Bill 1192, which Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed on June 30.
“We used [HB] 1192 as the model because the amounts were higher than last year’s budget,” House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said. “If the governor wants to reduce what is sent to agencies and schools and students, he can blue line those items back to 2014-15 levels if he chooses.”
Under the two bills, programs will receive one-third of the amounts appropriated to them under HB1192, though programs that also receive federal funding will receive the full year’s appropriation.
Senate leadership is looking to schedule final votes for Friday, which would leave the bills sitting in the House when they return to session on Monday. House GOP leaders have set a tentative goal to vote on the bills by the end of next week. At the moment, it is unclear whether Wolf will sign the bills.
“The Republican plan to pass a stopgap budget is yet another gimmick that further highlights the Republican’s clear comfort with politics as usual in Harrisburg and embracing a failed status quo that is holding PA back,” Wolf’s press secretary Jeffrey Sheridan said, slamming the GOP for four years of “fiscally irresponsible” budgets.
“The only situation in which Gov. Wolf will sign a stopgap budget is if all sides have agreement on a final budget, and passing it will take a matter of weeks, but he will veto a stopgap as an alternative to a final budget,” Sheridan said.