PA House begin talks on stopgap budget

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania has been without a budget for 82 days. On Monday, the State House will be back in session so lawmakers will work to find a solution for schools and non-profits feeling the pinch.

State representatives will meet at 1 p.m. and begin negotiating a stopgap budget. Last Friday, it passed the Pennsylvania Senate with a 30-to-19 party-line vote.

The $11 billion stopgap budget is a short-term spending plan that would give some state funding to schools and social services. It would provide four months of funding from the start of the fiscal year on July 1 through November 1. The stopgap budget would also release $24 billion in federal funds.

Governor Tom Wolf has already threatened to veto it. Wolf and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa say lawmakers need to come up with a long-term budget, not a temporary fix.

“I find it the height of hypocrisy when Republicans stand up and say that they’re worried about non-profits when for the past four year, they have been gutting and cutting those agencies, forcing services to be reduced, and not having those services be able to be provided in the communities because think that they need to put together a budget that is built on nothing but assumptions that are inaccurate.” said Costa, (D) Allegheny County.

Republicans say the stopgap budget needs to be passed because non-profits are suffering due to the budget impasse.

“Rape crisis centers, cancer centers, children and youth services, and on and on and on are, if they’re able to, are either going to have to shut down or borrow money and pay interest on the dollars because they’re not getting any dollars from the state. The Governor’s been opposing that, and I don’t understand,” said Rep. Stan Saylor, (R) York County.

Saylor said he believes the state will be without a budget until around Christmas.

“I don’t think holding children and cancer patients and rape victims hostage to budget negotiations, which no governor has ever done, no governor I repeat has ever done, is the right thing to do,” Saylor said.

Costa said he believes the Pennsylvania House will pass the stopgap budget within the next few weeks, and the Governor will veto it. Then legislators will have to go back to the drawing board.

“My hope is though and we believe that we’ll continue to have conversations and negotiations over the course of the next couple weeks trying to refine possibly some of the proposals that are on the table and getting to a solution,” Costa said.

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