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$11M budget with no new taxes passed to finish end of PA fiscal year

Harrisburg, PA – An $11 billion spending package to finish out the rest of the fiscal year passed in PA’s legislature, with no new taxes.

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Pennsylvania State Senate Democrats response:

Harrisburg, PA – An $11 billion no-new-taxes spending package won passage in a Friday night session in Pennsylvania’s Legislature, as lawmakers sought to plug a multibillion-dollar deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and carry state government operations through the rest of the fiscal year.

The votes were 104-97 in the House and 31-18 in the Senate. Lawmakers are using more than $3.3 billion in federal pandemic aid and transferring more than $500 million from off-budget state accounts.

Of those accounts, more than $150 million comes from environmental improvement funds.

The federal aid includes $1.3 billion left over from last March’s federal CARES Act. Democrats wanted to distribute the money as grants to a wide variety of institutions and businesses. Most Democrats opposed the budget package, reflecting unhappiness with using federal coronavirus relief aid to underwrite state government costs, rather than provide hazard pay to frontline workers and to aid universities, hospitals, schools, restaurants and businesses and institutions suffering during the pandemic.

In May, the Legislature approved a piecemeal, no-new-taxes $25.8 billion budget, while they waited to see how economic damage from the coronavirus would unfold and whether the federal government would deliver more budget aid. This “second” budget package had to be approved before November 31st to carry state finances through the end of the fiscal year next June.

Senators Jay Costa of Allegheny County and Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia both voted in favor of the budget, saying the state needs the funding to continue operations. Both say they want to continue to look for ways to provide assistance to those businesses and individuals devastated by the pandemic.

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Pennsylvania House of Representatives Republicans response:

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives concluded the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget process Friday with passage of a supplemental appropriation package that funds state government and related operations for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year.

The total appropriation for the fiscal year is $35.5 billion with $32.1 billion in state funds and $3.4 billion in federal stimulus dollars.

On the passage of the budget, Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus leaders made the following statements:

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster):

“Every Pennsylvanian has had to make sacrifices this year, and state government should be no different,” Cutler said. “This budget doesn’t just hold the line on spending but reduces total spending by hundreds of millions of dollars. It also avoids any tax increases and does not rely on borrowing.”

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin):

“When we passed our first appropriation five months ago, it was nearly inconceivable that we could have achieved a full-year spending plan absent tax increases, public borrowing or substantial cuts. Accomplishing such a feat now is a testament to the perseverance of the people of Pennsylvania and the dedication of the members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to work for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.

“Despite these unprecedented times, I am proud to see Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature come together with the administration to craft a spending plan that puts the people of Pennsylvania first and funds the core functions of government without increasing taxes or relying on public borrowing.

“Our total spending plan ensures Pennsylvania’s schools remain fully funded, our public health and community safety agencies have the resources they need to keep people safe during this global pandemic, and our most vulnerable populations remain protected.”

House Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York):

“This is a responsible budget that takes into account the fiscal realities that Pennsylvania is facing,” said Saylor. “With this budget, we can keep our schools and core government functions operating while respecting taxpayers by reducing other expenditures. The budget is balanced without any new or increased taxes and without any borrowing, which is important to taxpayers. Should Congress and the president decide to send additional federal funds to Pennsylvania, we pledge to work expeditiously to drive out additional aid to Pennsylvanians struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic, including our small business owners.”