Wolf’s budget plan: comprehensive vs. competitive?

Wolf’s budget plan: comprehensive vs. competitive?

Budget Secretary Randy Albright took center stage in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee to put on a defense of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget in the first of the Senate’s budget hearings Monday.

Sec. Albright’s message—along with that of the entire Wolf administration—was clear: the budget must be looked at in a comprehensive manner and not piecemeal. He repeatedly argued that when taken as a comprehensive package, the budget and other component proposals will bring Pennsylvania back into fiscal health and help the Commonwealth be more competitive with neighboring states.

“This is a comprehensive budget plan,” Sec. Albright told Majority Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) in response to a line of questioning. “You can’t just address challenges that face Pennsylvania piecemeal, you just can’t address a structural budget challenge if we don’t address other deficits, other budget challenges, that we also face.”

Monday, March 16, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Senate pension reform plan coming soon

Senate pension reform plan coming soon

According to Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Majority Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the likely prime sponsor of a Senate pension reform bill, the Senate Republican’s pension reform plan is still being worked on and could see the light of day in April.

The caucus leadership has repeatedly said pension reform must be dealt with before any revenue increase considerations can be had.

“I want to have something our caucus will support before I put it in,” Sen. Browne told reporters Monday afternoon following a budget hearing with the Budget Office. “But, it’ll be very different from what the governor proposed.”

Monday, March 16, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal will be altered, House Approps chairs say

Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal will be altered, House Approps chairs say

Both chairmen of the House Appropriations Committee—Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) and Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny)—agreed Thursday that after the first week of budget hearings the governor’s proposed budget will definitely change.

“I’ve always said that the governor’s proposal…it’s just a blueprint and we work off of the governor’s blueprint,” Rep. Adolph told The PLS Reporter. “I always start with last year’s budget as the starting point.”

Rep. Markosek commented that there is always change after the budget hearing process is concluded.

“His budget is the size of a phonebook, so my guess is there’ll be some changes,” he said. “Besides the governor’s office, there’s four caucuses involved, so obviously everybody’s going to have their say.”

Thursday, March 12, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Wolf administration will continue effort to attract Shell ethane cracker plant

Acting DCED Sec. Dennis Davin told members of the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday that the Wolf administration is continuing efforts to attract and finally bring the proposed Shell ethane cracker plant to Beaver County.

“I think part of what we’ve done is look at opportunities to really significantly work with [Shell] going forward,” said Sec. Davin, noting the administration does not yet know when a final decision will be made.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal would require more short-term borrowing

Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal would require more short-term borrowing

According to Executive Deputy State Treasurer and Chief Counsel Chris Craig, the budget proposal offered by Gov. Tom Wolf last week counts on an increase in short-term borrowing, likely in the form of tax anticipation notes, to front-load the disbursement of funds to provide immediate increases in funding to items such as public schools.

It was noted that while the budget proposal calls for an increase in revenues, some of those revenue streams will not become effective until 2016—a full six months following the budget’s normal effective date.

“It would be anticipated that there would be a much more aggressive use of short-term borrowing to deploy it earlier than when sales tax revenues would come in,” he told members of the House Appropriations Committee during a Tuesday budget hearing with his department.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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