The Shapiro administration has reached out to stakeholders in education and health and human services to inform them about the budget impasse.
Letters have been sent to those receiving funding from the Department of Education as well as the Departments of Health, Human Services, Drug and Alcohol Programs and Aging.
Both letters indicate that Gov. Josh Shapiro will sign the bipartisan budget as soon as it reaches his desk.
But the authors also remind the stakeholders that “In order for the Governor to sign this budget bill, the Senate President Pro Tempore must first complete the simple administrative step of delivering a signed physical copy of the bill to him.
“Unfortunately, the Pro Tempore (referring to Sen. Kim Ward) – who is the only person with the power to call the Senate into session to complete this procedural step — has adjourned the Senate until September 18, 2023. If she does not reconvene sooner, or until she does, we do not have the ability to disburse critical state and federal funding at this time.”
The authors stated that the solution to the impasse is “relatively simple,” as both the state House and Senate have agreed and passed a budget. But they warn that if the Senate does not return before September 18, the Commonwealth “will be unable to disburse an estimated $5.9 billion in planned state and federal funding, including some funding that you would normally expect to receive.”
Each letter listed the payments from the Departments that will be delayed until the bill is signed.
The authors also wanted to make sure that stakeholders understand that “Governor Shapiro finds the failure of our full-time state legislature to reconvene and deliver a signed copy of an already-passed budget bill unacceptable and has repeatedly urged the Senate to return to the Capitol immediately so that he can sign this bill and get you the critical funding needed to support your work.”
Ward (R-Westmoreland) indicated in a recent interview that a budget settlement could come sooner than later.
“I’m sure at some point in August, we will be able to get the general appropriation signed,” Ward said. “The treasurer, Stacy Garrity, said she can get checks out to schools within a day. The bottom line is we’re not going to leave Pennsylvanians hanging. We’re going to make sure we do the job we were elected to do.”
Recently, Republican House Appropriations chair Seth Grove (R-York) stated that he did not think the state would see any movement toward a resolution until October, at the earliest.
“I can’t really give you a date (in August),” said Ward. “But we’re going to try to allieve people’s worries. It’s not in our plan to make Pennsylvanians suffer.”