HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Work on a new Pennsylvania state budget will plow through the July 4 holiday weekend as the state government started the fiscal year Friday with diminished spending authority and details of a new spending plan still largely a secret.
Top lawmakers have publicly professed confidence in the past couple days that closed-door negotiations on a roughly $42 billion spending plan were on the right track.
“Everybody is working hard, both sides of the aisle, the governor’s office, everybody’s doing the best they can to get this over the hump and move on,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor, (R-York). “But I think we’ll have a good product when we’re done.”
Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) called the situation “fluid and frustrating” when speaking with abc27’s Dennis Owens.
Bradford claims Republicans have interjected abortion politics into the budget process, calling it a “mistake made earlier this week in a pretty spectacular fashion.”
House Republicans on Monday had added a proposal to require Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities to promise they are not conducting research or experiments with fetal tissue from elective abortions.
The target of the measure is the University of Pittsburgh, which is in line to receive $155 million in the coming year. Penn State, Temple, and Lincoln joined Pitt in the $597 package approved earlier this week.
“That has continued to ripple through the process,” says Bradford.
Education has been a big sticking point in negotiations with Governor Tom Wolf (D) asking for $1.8 billion additional while Senate Republicans were at about $800-$850 million.
“The Governor has recognized he’s not going to get everything he wants,” said Bradford. “Republicans, to their credit, have suggested more money into the rainy day fund.”
Without new spending authority in place, the state is legally barred from making some payments, although a stalemate must typically last several weeks before any effect on services is felt.
For now, the state’s bank account is flush with billions in extra cash. It is not in danger of running out of money and has plenty of cash to make payments that it is legally required to make, a Treasury Department spokesperson said.
Negotiators had yet to unveil full details of a plan to rank-and-file lawmakers — who must still vote on budget legislation — or publish hundreds of pages of budget-related legislation that typically underpin such a spending plan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report