Tuesday, December 22, 2015

State Budget Timeline: How Did We Get Into This Mess?

(Dec. 22, 9:00 a.m.) --  It may be worth a look back in time, as we approach yet another budget precipice, to see how we got to where we are on passing a state budget.  Here’s a timeline of significant actions taken on the budget and related bills since the Governor’s budget address on March 3 that chronicles how--
-- The proposed General Fund budget grew from what Gov. Wolf proposed-- $29.9 billion-- to the “agreed-to” budget of $30.8 billion;
-- Leaders of ALL four legislative Caucuses stood with Gov. Wolf twice at press conferences in November to say they had an agreement on a budget framework that included General Fund, liquor privatization and pension reform elements only to have the agreement fall apart because rank-and-file votes were not there;
-- Senate and House Republicans put a General Fund budget package and then a stopgap budget package on the Governor’s desk in the face of a veto threat and then he did what he said-- vetoed the bills;
-- Senate and House Republicans attempted to override Gov. Wolf’s vetoes of general and stopgap budget bills at separate times without success, and the Senate threatened a third time; and
-- House Republicans are, again, trying to pass a stopgap budget that Gov. Wolf has, again, threatened to veto, but this time with Senate Republican supporters saying they want a full year budget.
Here’s the timeline--
March: Gov. Wolf unveils a $29.9 billion FY 2015-16 General Fund budget proposal (although that’s somewhat misleading because of the way the overall spending package is proposed) that includes a proposed Personal Income Tax increase from 3 to 3.7 percent, a Sales Tax increase from 6 to 6.6 percent (also eliminating 45 current exemptions from the tax), a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax, a new 40 percent tax on smokeless tobacco, large cigars, loose tobacco and e-cigarettes and a 5 percent/ 4.7 percent per volume natural gas severance tax primarily for basic education funding.  The proposal would increase support for basic education by $1 billion, reduce school property taxes by $3.8 billion, raise the minimum wage and make $1.75 billion investments in new infrastructure, among other things.
June 1: House Republicans put Gov. Wolf’s full proposed tax package up for a vote in the House as an amendment to House Bill 283 (F.Keller-R-Snyder) and it failed by a vote of 0 to 193.  Not a single member voted for it.  House Democrats called it a “political trick.”
June 30: Senate and House Republicans sent their first package of budget bills to the Governor with a $30.2 billion General Fund budget (Note: that’s $200 million MORE than Gov. Wolf proposed in March): House Bill 1192 (Adolph-R-Delaware) (Senate Fiscal Note and summary); Senate Bill 655 (Browne-R-Lehigh) Fiscal Code bill (House Fiscal Note and summary); House Bill 762 (Roe-R-Crawford) Education Code bill (Senate Fiscal Note and summary); Senate Bill 1 (Corman-R-Centre) pension report bill (House Fiscal Note and summary; Actuarial Note); and House Bill 466 (Turzai-R-Allegheny) liquor privatization bill (Senate Fiscal Note and summary).  The Governor vetoed these bills in their entirety on June 30, the same day they were given to him.  Summary of basic items.  Summary of environmental items.
August: House Republicans fail in 14 attempts to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 1192 on certain line items Republicans said were “agreed-to” by almost identicals votes of 115 to 83.  Summary of items.  
In his last comments before the final vote was taken on August 25, Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, told members, “The end is NOT near” in terms of an overall budget agreement.  How prophetic.
September: Senate and House Republicans pass a package of stopgap budget bills September 28, including what they said were many “agreed-to” items. The stopgap budget bills included Senate Bill 1000 (Browne-R-Lehigh) General Fund Stopgap Budget Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note); Senate Bill 1001 (Browne-R-Lehigh) Fiscal Code Stopgap Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note); and amended House Bill 224 (Christiana-R -Beaver) with the Education Code Stopgap Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note).   The Governor vetoed all the bills saying he wants a full budget.
October: House Republicans put Gov. Wolf’s revised tax package up for a vote in the House as an amendment to House Bill 283 (F.Keller-R-Snyder).  The amendment failed by a vote of 73 to 127 on October 7.   The package included what Wolf and House Democrats said was a compromise budget revenue package that would raise the Personal Income Tax and impose a new severance tax on natural gas producers to help fill a $2.3 billion structural budget deficit and provide an additional $400 million for basic education.
On October 28 the Senate attempted to override the Governor’s veto of the stopgap budget bill-- Senate Bill 1000-- but fell 3 votes short-- 30 to 19.
November 10: Gov. Wolf and leaders of ALL four legislative caucuses agree to a draft budget framework that provides $1.4 billion of new property tax relief funded by a Sales Tax increase of 1.25 percent; $350 million in new basic education funding and $50 million for special education; a Pension Reform bill; a liquor privatization bill (both to be developed later); and no natural gas severance tax.
November 19: House passes House Bill 1690 (Turzai-R-Allegheny) liquor privatization bill virtually identical to the bill veto by Gov. Wolf in June as a vehicle for further action.
November 23: An amendment to House Bill 683 (Rapp-R-Forest), based on Senate Bill 76 (Argall-R-Schuylkill), to raise $13 billion to eliminate the school district property taxes by increasing the Personal Income Tax from 3.07 to 4.95 percent and the Sales Tax from 6 to 7 percent failed in the Senate by a tie vote broken by the Lt. Governor who voted no.  The vote was a test of whether broad-based tax increase could be used to support school property tax reductions.  The best the House ever did on school property tax reform was when it passed House Bill 504 (Gabler-R-Clearfield) in May which increased the Personal Income and Sales taxes enough to provide $5 billion worth of relief.
November 23: Budget framework agreement falls apart for various reasons, including the lack of support for increasing broad-based taxes to provide for less than 100 percent elimination of school property taxes. . Some House Republicans suggest a “barebones” $30.2 billion General Fund budget without increasing the Personal Income or Sales taxes.  Gov. Wolf said either pass the bills agreed to on November 10 in the budget framework or he would accept any budget bill passed by the Senate/House by December 4.  (No one took him up on his offer.)
November 25: A revised budget framework is again agreed to by Gov. Wolf and ALL four Caucuses after Senate Republicans threatened to attempt another vote to override the Governor’s veto of the stopgap funding bill.  The new budget framework eliminates any school property tax relief and the use of the Sales Tax to fund the estimated $600 million in new revenues to support the new, “agreed-to” $30.8 billion General Fund budget.  (Note: that’s $900 million MORE than the Governor’s proposal and $600 million MORE than the House Republican “barebones” budget.)
December 4: Senate passes another pension reform bill vehicle-- Senate Bill 1071 (Browne-R-Lehigh) and it moves to the House.
December 7-10:  The Senate passes second full budget package containing the “agreed-to” $30.8 billion General Fund budget in Senate Bill 1073 (Browne-R-Lehigh), but without a supporting tax package to an uncertain future in the House (spreadsheet).  A few days later the Senate passed the remainder of the package: Fiscal Code - House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike); Administrative Code - House Bill 941 (Regan-R-Cumberland); liquor privatization - House Bill 1690 (Turzai-R-Allegheny); pension reform -  Senate Bill 1082 (Browne-R-Lehigh); Welfare Code - House Bill 1322 (Kaufer-R-Luzerne); and Education Code - House Bill 530 (Reese-R-Somerset).
House Republicans, in turn, pass their “barebones” $30.2 billion General Fund budget December 8 in House Bill 1460 (Adolph-R-Delaware) and send it to the Senate.  Within hours, the Senate amends the House budget bill with the “agreed-to” $30.8 billion budget where it remains on the Senate Calendar for a final vote.
December 14: House sends the Welfare Code bill-- House Bill 1322 (Kaufer-R-Luzerne) to the Governor for his action and amends the Administrative Code-- House Bill 941 (Regan-R- Cumberland) and sends it back to the Senate.
December 18: Senate passes Tax Code vehicle-- House Bill 1198 (Dunbar-R-Westmoreland).
December 19: House fails to pass the “agreed-to” pension reform Senate Bill 1071 (Browne-R-Lehigh) by a vote of 52 to 149 with House Democrats opposing the bill.  Budget framework falls apart for the third time since November 10.
December 21: House Republicans amend Senate Bill 1073 (Browne-R-Lehigh), the General Fund bill, by a party-line vote in the Appropriations Committee to include the 11-month, stopgap budget, taking out the “agreed-to” General Fund budget provisions and reported it to the full House.  The Rules Committee, again by a party-line vote, amended House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike), the Fiscal Code bill, and took out many of the provisions added as part of the “agreed-to” budget in the Senate and reported it to the full House.  The House remains at the call of the Chair, but has listed December 22 and 23 as voting days.
Day 175 of the budget impasse.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner