The Senate today (September 18) approved a three-bill “stop gap” budget package to provides funding for schools and vital social services and sent the measures to the House of Representatives for consideration, according to Senator Scott Hutchinson.
The move is the latest effort by Republicans to help schools, counties, municipalities, agencies and contractors that saw their state payments end on July 1 after Governor Wolf vetoed House Bill 1192 (the Fiscal Year 2015-16 general fund spending bill) on June 30 — almost immediately after its passage by the General Assembly.
Senator Hutchinson said the veto of entire budget, instead of individual line items, was a drastic measure by the Governor since about 70 percent of the line items were at or above the amount he requested. Now, with the budget impasse in its third month, it is essential that action be taken to release state funds to local agencies and schools, he said.
“We are working very diligently to get money to our social service agencies, our schools and communities that serve needy people. State taxes are being collected, but the Governor – through his veto of the entire budget – has not allowed money to go out the door and that’s holding them hostage,” Senator Hutchinson said.
The basic goal in approving the stop gap budget is to provide essential funding for many vital programs and services, including schools, domestic violence survivors, rape crisis centers and students who depend on PHEAA loans.
“I think there is middle ground here, where we can fund government for a short period of time and get money to those needy agencies. Then we can continue to negotiate on the other big issues that are out there. But, for today it is important that we pass this stop gap budget.”
The three-bill package — Senate Bill 1000 (Stop Gap Appropriations Act), Senate Bill 1001 (Fiscal Code Budget Implementation) and House Bill 224 (Public School Code) – provides $11.2 billion in state allocations. That represents one-third (four months) of the state funding as authorized by HB 1192 with limited exceptions.
The stop gap budget also allocates the federal money Pennsylvania administers for schools and local governments.
While most expenditures in the stop gap budget are set at one-third of the amount in HB 1192, SB 1000 provides:
- 100 percent of the state funding ($2.8 million) in HB 1192 to combat Avian Influenza.
- 100 percent of the state funding ($5 million) in HB 1192 for Regional Events Security related to the upcoming papal visit.
- 100 percent of HB 1192 funding for debt service.
- 50 percent of the state funding in HB 1192 for PHEAA, representing one semester’s worth of state funding.
- 50 percent of state funding in HB 1192 for County Child Welfare to meet requirements set by state law.
Contact: Justin Leventry (717) 787-9684