HARRISBURG – The General Assembly this week passed a five-month $25.8 billion budget to allow for a more detailed financial picture to emerge following the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.
The measure advanced by the Legislature funds education for kindergarten to 12th grade at the same level as 2019-20, and it also fully funds colleges and universities. The education section of the budget is extended beyond the five months to a full year.
The budget also ensures core government services will continue without interruption, and contains no broad-based tax increases.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford/Lycoming/Sullivan/Susquehanna/Union) and Reps. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union) and Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming) described the actions taken as stabilizing. As the effects of coronavirus on the tax base are not yet known, a temporary budget is needed to give certainty and direction until the state has a clearer revenue picture.
“While our fiscal line of sight does not extend through June 2021, the Senate today did approve a financial bridge — a five-month, temporary, no-new-tax budget plan that maintains current spending levels, while we continue to monitor revenue numbers and the impact the coronavirus has had on Pennsylvania,” Sen. Yaw said. “The fact is that Pennsylvania faces too many unknowns and a five-month budget gives us the ability to respond to new situations as they arise.”
“This budget will keep our state moving forward during the current uncertainty while we work to plan for the remainder of the fiscal year,” said Everett. “Projecting revenues would be near impossible in this situation. For the sake of Pennsylvania taxpayers that are financially struggling across the board, this includes no tax increases or program disruptions, including a full year’s worth of funding for education. I urge the governor to sign this stabilizing budget.”
“It’s important that Pennsylvania’s state government acts efficiently and with the utmost frugality during this unprecedented financial crisis,” Wheeland added. “Millions of Pennsylvanians are facing a dire income situation this year, as is our state government. It is vital that we ensure funding for our schools and keep tax increases off the table. Taxpayers must be protected from any further economic uncertainty. The governor should approve this budget as soon as possible.”
The House passed the interim budget in House Bill 2387 by a vote of 103-99 on Tuesday. It passed in the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 44-6.
CONTACT: Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff (717) 787-3280