Pennsylvania State Budget Remains In Limbo

The state budget impasse continues with no clear ending (or even a pathway to an ending) in sight. As has been reported previously, the core stumbling block to the adoption of the state spending plan was the refusal of House Democrats to support a school voucher bill that had been agreed to by the Senate Republicans and Governor Shapiro. As it became clear that the House was not going to be persuaded to accept the plan (because of opposition of teachers unions and other House Democratic allies) the Governor indicated that he would no longer support the voucher program in this budget.

This resulted in bitter recriminations from the majority Senator Republicans who charged that the Governor had broken a deal with them.
The House has since passed the budget bill that the Senate originally passed on June 30. But upon the Governor’s announcement that he would veto the voucher provisions in the bill, the Senate has refused to send (walk) the bill to the Governor’s desk.

The state Constitution requires that the presiding officer of each legislative chamber needs to sign a bill upon passage by both bodies in order for it to proceed to the Governor. In this case, the Senate had adjourned until mid-September-preventing the Democratic Lt Governor -from signing the bill.

Because of the serious breakdown between the Governor and the Senate, it is uncertain how the negotiations will even proceed. In an addition to the budget bill itself there are ancillary “code” bills (Education, Fiscal, Tax etc.) that are needed to authorize the specific spending from the budget bill when it is actually passed. Neither House or the Senate has passed a code bill in this year’s process.

Although there is generally little impact on the public in the initial period after a state budget deadline is missed, pressure will be begin to build from school districts and state funded universities as the weeks and months draw out.