Pennsylvania Begins New Fiscal Year Without A Budget

The Pennsylvania General Assembly left town on Friday June 30 without completing its work to finalize the adoption of the state’s General Budget. The state Senate did vote 29 – 21 to pass a $45~ billion budget which was rejected by the House Democrats. By law, the deadline for adoption of the budget (by both chambers) is midnight June 30-the beginning of the state’s fiscal year.

An impasse developed last week between the Republican controlled Senate and Democratic controlled House over a $100 million school voucher plan that had the backing of Governor Shapiro. As it became more clear that the program would be included in the budget bill, the teachers unions and their allies in the labor community erupted in a campaign to oppose the plan.

Democrats historically have strongly opposed providing students state money to be used for attendance to private schools-arguing ultimately that would erode the public school system. The Senate Republicans argue this plan provides a lifeline to students trapped in low functioning school districts.

The House Democratic leadership has stated its refusal to adopt the voucher bill. Senate Republicans indicate they will not agree to pass a general budget unless the voucher plan is included. The legislature is scheduled to tentatively return July 6 but the fundamental disagreement on vouchers may extend negotiations for a significantly longer time past that date.

It should be noted that there have been many times in the past when the state budget was not adopted prior to the deadline. It is generally weeks or months before services and payments are impacted.