WHAT IS, ISN’T IN THE BUDGET
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG — Highlights of the spending package advancing in the state Legislature for Pennsylvania state government’s 2019-20 fiscal year starting July 1, as well as the fate of key initiatives proposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf:
THE BIG PICTURE
• Increases spending through the state’s main bank account to $34 billion. Including $674 million for cost overruns in the current fiscal year, it authorizes nearly $2 billion in new, higher spending, or 6% of this year’s enacted budget of $32.7 billion.
• Projects a nearly 3% increase in tax collections to $35.8 billion, before refunds.
• Does not increase tax rates on sales or income, the state’s two biggest sources of revenue.
• Deposits nearly $300 million into budgetary reserve.
• Uses hundreds of millions in transfers and payment delays to veil the true cost of operating state government.
• Authorizes borrowing $90 million to help Pennsylvania’s counties pay for new voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. Wolf had sought the aid.
• Grants Wolf’s request to authorize his administration to take over Pennsylvania’s online health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act from the federal government.
• Authorizes $255 million out of governor’s original $315 million request for additional pre-kindergarten and K-12 public school funding.
• Includes Wolf’s request to raise the age at which children in Pennsylvania must attend schools, currently age 8, to age 6, and raises the permissible dropout age from 17 to 18.
• Includes Wolf’s proposal to grant members of the National Guard who re-enlist for six more years an added higher-education benefit that can be used by spouses or children.
• Boosts Wolf’s year-old PAsmart initiative by $10 million to $40 million for apprenticeships, computer science training and other technical education training programs.
• Does not raise the state minimum wage. Wolf had proposed raising it to $12 an hour on July 1, up from the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, with incremental increases after that.
• Does not impose a per person fee from municipalities that do not have their own full-time police force and instead rely solely upon state police for coverage. Wolf had proposed a sliding-scale fee based on a municipality’s population to raise $103 million.
• Does not restructure how the state calculates corporate profits to adopt “combined reporting” or reduce the corporate net income tax rate. Wolf had proposed both.
• Does not impose a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling to fund a $4.5 billion borrowing program that Wolf had proposed to pay for upgrades to infrastructure and development projects.
• Does not authorize the Wolf administration to join a regional consortium that sets a price and caps on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, netting Pennsylvania hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
SPENDING BY CATEGORY (including money from outside state accounts)
• HUMAN SERVICES: Declines by $1.2 billion, or 7%, to $16.3 billion.
• K-12 PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION: Grows $210 million, or 2.5%, to $8.3 billion.
• PRE-K EDUCATION: Grows $45 million, or 8%, to $596 million.
• HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS: Grows $34 million, or 2.5%, to $1.3 billion.
• CORRECTIONS AND PAROLE: Grows $18 million, or 1.5%, to $2.6 billion.
• PENSIONS: Grows about $160 million, or 5%, to $3.5 billion.
• STATE POLICE: Grows about $35 million, or 3%, to $1.3 billion.
• DEBT: Grows $175 million, or 13%, to $1.3 billion.