Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania state budget needs to be passed by the end of this month, and some Pennsylvanians are worried that it’ll be a repeat of what happened two years ago.
Pennsylvania couldn’t come to an agreement on a budget in June of 2015, leading to a budget impasse that lasted for 9 months, finally ending in March of 2016. It was a partisan gridlock that threatened to shut down schools and lay off social service workers.
Could it happen again? This year likely won’t be a repeat of 2015, but there are still some problems to be worked out.
Pennsylvania still faces a possible $3 billion shortfall in the projected budget. In order to make ends meet, lawmakers would have to agree on ways to raise state revenues. Two of the proposed ways of raising extra cash in the state involve changes to gambling and alcohol sale laws.
Senator and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati says that this is a hard pill to swallow and that many of the government officials feel uneasy about encouraging what many people feel are vices or bad habits in order to raise money.
Joe Scarnati talks about the pros and cons of loosening laws on alcohol and gambling in PA and other budget issues
The skyrocketing cost of the state’s pension funds has been a drain on the budget for years, and lawmakers say it won’t be an easy fix. However, the Senate passed a bill that would possibly overhaul public employee pension, and Gov. Tom Wolf is said to support to reform. Although not directly related to the budget itself, it could be the key to cutting costs in Pennsylvania.