PA Lawmakers Float Stringent Budget Bill To Save Money

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Several Republican state senators plan to introduce legislation that would require Pennsylvania to use zero-based budgeting–a standard specifically designed to save money. The idea comes from lawmakers’ annual, unsuccessful struggles to balance the commonwealth’s books. However, other states that have attempted to use the method have often opted not to stick with it. Zero-based budgeting basically requires a rotating percentage of state agencies to re-justify all their operations and expenses every five years, and estimate the minimum amount of money they need to continue them. The author of the new measure, York County Republican Scott Wagner, said he’s taking cues from the private sector.

$1-Billion Hole Projected For Next Year’s PA Budget

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Pennsylvania is already on track to have a significant budget gap to fill next year. A study from the Independent Fiscal Office shows lawmakers will likely need to come up with about a billion dollars to keep the books balanced. They only just finished this year’s budget, four months behind schedule. It was mostly filled with borrowing, expected revenue from a gambling expansion and a number of internal fund transfers. Much of the money isn’t recurring, and that’s a big reason why the IFO is predicting the state will have to find more cash next year.

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Post-Impasse, Many In PA Want To See Changes In State Budgeting

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — After a tumultuous budget process that saw state lawmakers pass a plan they couldn’t fully pay for, many are looking into changing how the system works entirely. For four months, the budget was in a sort of limbo. A $32 billion spending package passed just after the June 30th due date, so most state spending continued as usual. But the budget was over $2 billion out of balance, and stayed that way until late last month. A number of lawmakers–and others–want to keep that from happening again “It has to be one vote so we don’t spend money we don’t have, and frankly so politicians don’t get to say, ‘I want to spend this money, which is popular, but I’m not going to vote to pay for it because that’s unpopular,'” Montgomery County Senator Daylin Leach said.

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PA Treasurer Authorizes Major Loan To Cover State Expenses

HARRISBURG (WSKG) – The state Treasury has authorized a major $1.8 billion loan to keep Pennsylvania’s general fund from running out of money.  It comes just in time for the commonwealth to make major public school payments. Over the last several years, it became routine for the Treasury to extend large loans early in the fiscal year, because the bulk of state revenues have tended to come in later months. But this year, Treasurer Joe Torsella refused to follow suit until the state budget was finished–calling it irresponsible to do so. The Senate and Governor Tom Wolf supported the decision to delay the loan, though House Republicans didn’t.  Wolf still hasn’t confirmed whether he’ll sign the legislature’s now-complete revenue plan, but Torsella said he’s comfortable lending the money based on the administration’s promises to manage funds responsibly. In a statement, Torsella said because of the “unusual events surrounding this year’s budget,” the Treasury opted to add provisions to the loan that would “secure Treasury’s investment, and provide alternatives if circumstances change.”

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New York, California Governors Team Up Against Tax Overhaul

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ALBANY (WSKG) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a conference call with California Gov. Jerry Brown, singled out two New York GOP congressmen for criticism after they voted for a budget measure that clears the way for a vote on the Republican plan to overhaul the tax system. Cuomo has been speaking out nearly every day against a proposal in the federal tax overhaul plan to eliminate state and local tax deductions from federal income tax filings. He calls it double taxation and a political attack on New York. The state comptroller has said New Yorkers would lose $72 billion in state and local tax deductions if the Republican plan in Congress were to be approved. That’s because New York has one of the highest local tax rates in the nation.