Lawmakers move to protect own funds during budget stalemates

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A bill that passed the Pennsylvania Senate comfortably late last month is designed to give lawmakers the explicit power to borrow money to pay their salaries, benefits and other costs during a state budget standoff.

The proposal, now pending in the House, would give them authority do the sort of borrowing that occurred during a lengthy budget stalemate with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2015.

The borrowed money would be deposited with the Treasury Department, which would then use it to pay the Legislature’s bills. A Treasury Department lawyer says in a recent memo that his agency is obligated to pay salaries, benefits and core functions for the General Assembly and court system.

Supporters of the Senate-passed bill say lawmakers should decide what core functions are, not the executive branch.

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