WSKG

No Word Yet On Where PA’s Governor Will Borrow Money For State Budget

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — One of the biggest parts of the budget plan that Governor Tom Wolf has now mostly signed into law is $1.5 billion dollars worth of borrowing.

But Wolf said Monday it’s not yet set in stone where that money will come from.

The legislature’s plan called for borrowing from the Tobacco Settlement Fund–which gets yearly payments from a settlement states made with tobacco companies in the late 1990s.

But while he was waiting for lawmakers to pass it, Wolf came up with his own approach — deciding to borrow the money against future revenue from the state-run liquor industry.

The Liquor Control Board has already begun the process of approving borrowing, and the Commonwealth Financing Authority, or CFA,  is scheduled to consider the legislature’s tobacco plan.

For now, Wolf said he’s going forward with both.

“I am committed to the borrowing from the liquor control board,” he said. “But I think it really depends on what the CFA does.”

Wolf Spokesman JJ Abbott clarified that Wolf’s probably not going to actually borrow money from both sources–the administration is just keeping both plans in play in case something goes wrong.

“This still has to go through the CFA,” Abbott said. “It takes unanimous approval for the CFA to proceed. So at the end of the day, there’s no way of knowing what the CFA is going to do.”

Wolf indicated he prefers to borrow against the LCB.

That could be a politically loaded decision. Many House Republicans took issue with that proposal–in part because one of their longtime goals is to privatize the liquor industry.

In either case, the money would have to be paid back with interest over at least two decades.