On Wednesday, House Republicans intend to vote on an updated $30 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2015-16. The new plan arrives several months after Governor Tom Wolf signed a stopgap budget, using his veto power to eliminate more than $6 billion of General Assembly approved spending.
House Bill 1801 includes a total spending package of $30.031 billion, a 3 percent increase over fiscal year 2014-15. However, the plan spends $238 million less than the stopgap budget blue-line vetoed by Governor Wolf. Perhaps most importantly, HB 1801 does not rely on the imposition of new taxes; rather, all expenses use currently available General Fund revenue subject to certain adjustments.
In addition to the funding provided via the stopgap budget, public schools will receive an additional $50 million. This figure brings the total amount spent on basic education to $5.93 billion for fiscal year 2015-16.
The higher education spending vetoes made by Governor Wolf to the stopgap budget will be reversed with HB 1801, resulting in the full funding of Lincoln, Pitt, Penn State, and Temple universities. The amount of spending for each state-related university represents a 5 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
HB 1801 will also restore full funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and provide much-needed funding to Penn State’s statewide agricultural extension services.
$150 million will be cut from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ medical assistance programs. House Republicans state that this adjustment in funding is a result of analyzing medical assistance claims nine months into the fiscal year. In order to further curb spending, certain line items vetoed by Governor Wolf in the stopgap budget will be accepted as part of HB 1801.
Finally, the spending proposed in the new budget will lower the estimated budget deficit from $1.9 billion to $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2016-17.
(Updated at 2:43 p.m.)
Governor Wolf has issued a statement that he will veto the new budget. Read the statement here.
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