Friday, May 6, 2016

Changing DEP’s Drilling Regs May Be At Heart Of Budget Compromises In Harrisburg

The Wolf Administration this week let it be known the Governor’s Chief Of Staff Mary Isenhour would be the one negotiating the budget this year to avoid last year’s problem of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” according to
The other visible change, so far, is the lack of weekly (or daily) budget salvoes back and forth between Republicans and Gov. Wolf.  But, then again, it’s early.
On KDKA radio in Pittsburgh, Gov. Wolf said the budget impasse was necessary in order to bring all players the reality of the budget situation.
“We couldn’t keep going down that same road where the state was not coming up with the funding that we should at the state level,” Gov. Wolf said. “We needed to have that impasse, which was a catharsis, to try to shake ourselves into some sense or reality in terms of what the state should be doing.”
“It was painful for me to go through the period we went through last year where those were the institutions that were hurt the most because the impasse meant the state funding, however inadequate, wasn’t coming to them and they couldn’t plan because they didn’t know when it was coming through,” Gov. Wolf said.
“That was absolutely appropriate, that was something that I did, that we did in Harrisburg and it did cause a lot of problems for schools.”
In another hint, perhaps, House Republicans Tuesday temporarily delayed consideration of a House Resolution to kill DEP’s final oil and gas drilling regulations, a Wolf Administration priority, to see if they could resolve some of the issues involved with the Administration.
The Administration responded with a statement saying, “Following the recent approval by the Independent Regulatory Review commission of these new regulations, the Governor is committed to working with the Legislature to further his Administration’s goal of improving the protection of water and public resources, public health and safety, and addresses landowner concerns, enhances transparency, and improves data management.”
The keywords being, for the short term at least, “committed to working with the Legislature.”  
Ultimately, if the House and Senate go ahead and pass the resolution killing the drilling regulations, Gov. Wolf will have to decide whether he will use his veto again or work out some other deal to save whatever pieces of the regulation he can.
Take Action Now
Click Here to urge your legislators to oppose efforts to block DEP’s drilling regulations.
Gov. Wolf also had joint appearances with Republicans at a series of local roundtables on Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic.  Friday he was with House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) and Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) in Indiana and Thursday with Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford).
Budget Numbers
In spite of advanced billing the House would take its first votes on a budget this week-- House Bill 1999 (Adolph-R-Delaware)-- was only moved around a little and put back into House Appropriations Committee.  Any amendments proposed to the bill were withdrawn.
Pennsylvania collected $3.7 billion in General Fund revenue in April, which was $24.8 million, or 0.7 percent, less than anticipated, Secretary of Revenue Eileen McNulty reported Monday.
Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $25.9 billion, which is $122.6 million, or 0.5 percent, above estimate.

The Independent Fiscal Office Tuesday released its revised revenue estimates which projects $31.586 billion in state revenue to be available in FY 2016-17, a 1.8 percent increase over FY 2015-16, with a structural deficit of $1.86 billion.
Coming Next
The Senate returns to voting session the weeks of May 9 and 16 before taking off until June 6.
The House comes back the weeks of May 16 and 23 before also taking off until June 6.
Both the Senate and House will then be in session of the budget run up through June 30.
Click Here to urge your legislators to oppose efforts to block DEP’s drilling regulations.
Wolf’s Chief Of Staff To Head Administration Budget Talks
Click Here to urge your legislators to oppose efforts to block DEP’s drilling regulations.
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