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PA Senate Will Return to Session Next Week

PA Capitol

The Pennsylvania State Senate will return to session next week to take up the unfinished budget-related bills.

When their counterparts in the State House come back is another story.

“Our work to complete the necessary budgetary implementation legislation continues at this time and the Senate will reconvene on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. to finalize the 2023-2024 state budget,” said spokesperson Kate Flessner. “We are in communication with House leaders, and we remain hopeful the House will also choose to reconvene before September 26.”

The Senate sent Gov. Josh Shapiro the state’s main $45.5 billion appropriations bill earlier this month.

Shapiro signed the bill while using his line-item veto power to reject a provision that would have created a program to provide vouchers for private school tuition for poor families living in poorly-performing school districts.

But $1.1 billion in new funding under that state budget is being sequestered as the Democratic governor, Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House face a new round of negotiations to reach bipartisan agreement on the Fiscal Code and other code bills to decide how that money is to be spent.

“Discussions continue with Senate Republicans and the administration on a fiscal code,” said Nicole Reigelman, press secretary for House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). “The House plans to return to session on Tuesday, Sept. 26, but we are not foreclosing on the possibility that we may return sooner if an agreement is reached.”

With a 101-101 split in the lower chamber due to the resignation of Sara Innamorato to focus on her run for Allegheny County Executive, it is not likely that the body would return early. A special election to fill Innamorato’s seat is scheduled for September 19 between Democrat Lindsay Powell and Republican Erin Connelly Autenreith.

Given the fact that it will take 2-3 weeks to certify the election and seat the winner, it is increasingly unlikely that the final pieces of the state budget puzzle are put together until October.

Included in the unfinished portions of the budget is money for programs such as a $100 million Level Up Supplement for poorer schools, $50 million for hospital and health system emergency relief, $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars for school mental health grants, $7.5 million of state aid for indigent defense legal services and $10 million for stipends for student teachers.

Funds are also still in the balance for three state-related universities – Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

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