Working to provide financial relief to school districts and social service agencies impacted by the prolonged budget impasse, the Senate today (September 18) approved a three-bill “bridge” budget package and sent the measures to the House of Representatives for consideration.
This stop gap budget in no way hinders the ongoing budget discussions, but what it does is provide needed help to our schools, counties, municipalities, agencies and contractors that saw their state payments end on July 1 after the Governor vetoed House Bill 1192 (the Fiscal Year 2015-16 general fund spending bill) on June 30 — almost immediately after its passage by the General Assembly.
“With on on-going discussion, one of the major concerns is with the Administration’s proposed $3.8 billion tax increase, which includes increases in the Personal Income Tax and the state sales tax,” said Senator Brooks. “These increases would impact individuals, families and small businesses. They would dig into family budgets and could also cut jobs”
The PIT proposal would mean an approximate $378 tax increase for those households with an income of $60,000, which would be yet another major financial blow for families already paying higher prices at the pump due to Pennsylvania’s recent gas tax hike, according to the Senator.
“Gas prices in Pennsylvania are higher than they should be as a result of the tax increase. Motorists in Ohio are currently paying around $1.97 per gallon, while here, just a few miles away, we are paying as high as $2.47 a gallon,” Senator Brooks said. “People here are struggling, and if we truly want to keep our children and families here, we’ve got to stop making Pennsylvania the most expensive and regulated place to live.”
The three-bill package — Senate Bill 1000 (Stop Gap Appropriations Act), Senate Bill 1001 (Fiscal Code Budget Implementation) and House Bill 224 (Public School Code) – provides $11.2 billion in state allocations. That represents one-third (four months) of the state funding as authorized by HB 1192 with limited exceptions.
“This entire budget process is about people coming together, compromising and working out a solution for what’s good for the people of Pennsylvania. One area where we have seen change is in education spending. This change would increase education spending by 400 million. This would bring the total amount of education spending to about 40 percent of the state budget,” Senator Brooks said. “This ‘bridge’ budget is about our children. It’s about our schools. It’s about our social service organizations, the disabled, the veterans, the farmers. We need to get the resources to them.”
The stop gap budget also allocates the federal money that Pennsylvania administers for schools and local governments. “There is no reason federal dollars should be withheld. That was a consequence of the veto. This stop gap budget releases those funds to our communities,” Senator Brooks said.
Senator Brooks said the funding provided by the stop gap budget package shouldn’t be a matter of partisan bickering.
“It’s not about Republican, Democrat or politics. This is about the people of Pennsylvania and getting these necessary resources to them,” Senator Brooks said. “The state is collecting taxes, we are collecting revenue and so there is no reason that we shouldn’t be distributing that revenue instead of an entire state being held hostage. It’s about working together, communication and moving Pennsylvania forward.”
While most expenditures in the stop gap budget are set at one-third of the amount in HB 1192, SB 1000 provides:
- 100 percent of the state funding ($2.8 million) in HB 1192 to combat Avian Influenza.
- 100 percent of the state funding ($5 million) in HB 1192 for Regional Events Security related to the upcoming papal visit.
- 100 percent of HB 1192 funding for debt service.
- 50 percent of the state funding in HB 1192 for PHEAA, representing one semester’s worth of state funding.
- 50 percent of state funding in HB 1192 for County Child Welfare to meet requirements set by state law.