Some Republicans say use of new basic education funding formula should be reconsidered

While its use for additional school funds has unanimously been given the green light twice by Republicans in the House and the Senate, some in the GOP are seeing the twice-vetoed Education Code bills passed by the legislature as the perfect opportunity to revisit the use of the new basic education funding formula.

The new formula was developed after the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission held a number of hearings across the state before delivering their report with new funding recommendations in June.

While the Wolf administration was skeptical of the new formula’s usage for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, stating they wished to bring school districts back to pre-Corbett funding levels before using the formula to drive out new dollars, Republicans insisted on using the funding formula for funds that went above-and-beyond last year’s amounts.

A similar use of the new funding formula was seen in the Education Code bill passed along with the vetoed stop-gap funding measures in September.

While initially sources within the House Republican Caucus told The PLS Reporter that members were using the time during the budget impasse to learn more about how the use of the new formula would affect their particular districts, some members have gone so far as to call for a review of certain elements of the new formula and hold off on its usage until such time as the formula can be reconsidered.

Monday, October 19, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
After GOP budget planning meeting, nothing definitive agreed-to and everything still on the table

After GOP budget planning meeting, nothing definitive agreed-to and everything still on the table

Top House and Senate Republican leaders met for several hours Monday afternoon to discuss their budget strategy and attempt to get on the same page with a game plan that will try to bring about a final budget sooner rather than later.

However, that process seemed to be frustratingly difficult as staff and leaders dispersed their fourth-floor Capitol meeting room in waves as ongoing discussions left nothing definitive agreed-to between the two majority caucuses in the legislature.

Monday, October 19, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Gov. Wolf: “I’d certainly be willing to talk to anything that would close that budget deficit in a real way”

Gov. Wolf: “I’d certainly be willing to talk to anything that would close that budget deficit in a real way”

Gov. Tom Wolf Friday continued his push for closing Pennsylvania’s structural deficit, going to Susquehanna Township to call on Republican lawmakers to present him with a plan that closes the deficit in what he calls “a real way.”

 

While he said he would still like to see the revenue plan he put forward last week—closing what he anticipates is a $1.27 billion deficit for the current fiscal year and what he has said will be a $2.289 billion deficit in FY 2016-2017—the governor was open to other suggestions.

 

“I’d certainly be willing to talk to anything that would close that budget deficit in a real way, absolutely” he told reporters. “I want to hear it, I haven’t heard it, I haven’t gotten the proposal, but if there is something out there that I’m not aware of I want to hear it.”

 

The House of Representatives next week is anticipated to have a committee vote on a package of gaming expansion bills that has the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars that will go to offset the budget deficit.

Friday, October 16, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman

Survey: Budget impasse continues to negatively impact social services organizations

A survey released Thursday by the United Way of Pennsylvania shows the continuing Pennsylvania budget impasse is leading to compounding negative impacts among commonwealth social services organizations that rely on state dollars to make ends meet.

According to the survey, of the 282 organizations queried, 47 organizations have had to lay-off or furlough employees while some have cut back employee work hours and/or access to employee benefits.

In more specific numbers, the survey shows 45 full-time employees have been laid off or furloughed along with an additional 50 part-time employees. 522 employees have had hours reduced while another 73 people are working without pay.

510 employees have lost access to benefits.

Thursday, October 15, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Budget reality and new revenue possible in coming weeks?

As budget negotiations continued on the staff level Wednesday, GOP leaders pointed out that they are expecting their Democratic counterparts to come around to the new reality of what it will take to get a budget done - particularly as it relates to the unviable prospects of increasing sales and personal income taxes - but also did not close the door on the use of new recurring revenue sources to plug budget holes.

“I think the word to use now is ‘reality’,” Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) told The PLS Reporter in a brief interview. “I’ve had Senate Democrats coming to me with recognizing the reality that a sales tax increase and a personal income tax increase did not have all the votes in their caucus and I think the governor has found that out with the vote last week.”

He relayed Senate Republican leadership will be updating their caucus next week on the fiscal and financial condition of where the Commonwealth currently is and preparing them to look “at what the reality is.”

Sen. Scarnati added that so long as House and Senate Democrats are “in the reality world” of having the sales and income tax increases off the table then both sides can sit down and work together toward the goal of arriving at an agreed-to spend number and put a budget together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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