Senate and House Republicans Tuesday send state budget bills, a liquor privatization, pension reform and a Fiscal Code bill implementing their budget to the Governor. Almost immediately, Gov. Wolf said he would veto the Republican budget “in its entirety,” including the General Fund Budget and the Fiscal Code bills.
He said he is going to take a closer look at both the liquor privatization and pension reform bills before he takes action.
Gov. Wolf said,”I am truly sorry that we are at this place….Republican leaders have just said no… I’m sticking to my broad goals.” He invited legislative leaders to a meeting Wednesday to begin the process of really working on the budget.
He said the Republican budget would result in a $3 billion deficit. “The math just doesn’t work-- Two plus two does not equal five in the real world.”
The Republican budget, he said--
-- Does not invest in education;
-- Does not enact a natural gas severance tax; and
-- Does not give property tax relief to seniors and families.
The bills included--
-- General Fund: House Bill 1192 (Adolph-R-Delaware) Senate/House Republican General Fund budget was passed by the House 112-77 and the Senate concurred in House amendments by a vote of 30 to 19. A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available.
-- Fiscal Code: Senate Bill 655 (Browne-R-Lehigh) Fiscal Code amendments designed to implement the budget, fund projects wanted by legislators and insert legislative language wanted by members into law. A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.
-- Education Code: House Bill 762 (Roe-R-Crawford) amendments to the Education Code required to implement the budget and making other changes. A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available. A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.
-- Pension Reform: Senate Bill 1 (Corman-R-Centre) Senate/House Republican pension reform bill. A House Fiscal Note and summary are available. An Actuarial Note and summary of the bill is available online.
-- Liquor Privatization: House Bill 466 (Turzai-R-Allegheny)House Republican liquor privatization plan was amended with the Senate/House Republican liquor privatization plan. A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available. A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.
Here’s a quick summary of the bills-
House Bill 1192 (Adolph-R-Delaware) is a $30.1 billion no tax increase state budget, just over $1 billion more than last year. Republicans pointed to these budget highlights:
— $100 million new state dollars for basic education that is combined with reforms to the basic education funding formula and improvements in accountability.
— $20 million for special education.
— $30 million for early education, including Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
— $300 million in savings for the state and school districts to pay for capital improvements.
— $41 million across the board for higher education.
— $2.8 million to address avian flu.
— Expanding community-based services for seniors to help keep them in their homes and communities.
— Structural reform to the pension system, which is the No. 1 cost driver for the state and school districts.
— $200 million in additional revenues through liquor reforms.
— Stronger state revenues, meaning the deficit is not at the levels previously anticipated.
Here are some other highlights of the GOP plan--
-- Dept. of Education-
-- Community Colleges: $222.1 million ($6.4 million more)
-- Community College Capital Fund: $48.8 million (same)
-- Penn State, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln, State System of Higher Ed received about 3 percent increase
-- Mobile Science and Math Education Programs: $2.1 million ($250,000 more)
-- Boost basic education funding $100 million
-- Judiciary: Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court same as last year
-- Courts of Common Pleas: $7 million more
-- District Justices: $3 million more
-- Philadelphia Courts: same
-- Governor’s Executive Offices: cuts $4 million from last year.
-- Attorney General: adds $3 million from last year
-- State Treasurer: adds $67.3 million from last year
-- Auditor General: adds $1.4 million from last year
-- General Assembly: Senate: $31.3 million more; House: $20.1 million more
A House Republican spreadsheet with General Fund line items is available online. House Democrats distributed a budget spreadsheet and a staff summary of the Republican budget. A Senate Democratic staff summary of the budget is available. A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available.
Senate Bill 1 (Corman-R-Centre) Senate/House Republican pension reform bill. The features of Senate Bill 1 include:
— All new state and public school employees will be enrolled in a mandatory, 401-k type Defined Contribution Plan, similar to those used by private sector workers.
— Members of the General Assembly, upon election or re-election, will be enrolled in the same Defined Contribution Plan as state and public school employees.
— Current employees’ previously earned benefits will not be changed.
— Current employees will then be able to choose between increasing their pension contribution or electing to lower their future benefits.
— There will be no changes to current retirees’ benefits.
— A Public Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission made up of investment professionals and retirement advisors, will be established to make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. Among their duties will be to evaluate the performance of current investment strategies and procedures of both state retirement systems regarding rates of return and associated fees paid for fund management.
A House Fiscal Note and summary are available. An Actuarial Note and summary of the bill is available online.
House Bill 466 (Turzai-R-Allegheny)House Republican liquor privatization plan was amended with the Senate/House Republican liquor privatization plan. The main features are--
— Removes Pennsylvania as the wholesaler of wine and liquor.
— Creates wholesale permits for licensed importers of wine and liquor to purchase.
— Creates expanded permits for restaurants and hotel licensees to allow them to sell wine and spirits to-go.
— Allows grocery stores with licenses to purchase permits to sell up to 5 bottles of wine and 2 bottles of spirits.
— Provides for the closure of State Stores once sufficient wine and spirits products are available at surrounding beer distributors.
— Provides educational assistance for displaced State Store employees.
— Brings $220 million in revenues to the Commonwealth for fiscal year 2015-16.A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available. A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.