December 6, 2015

Updated: Senate Moves Ahead With Agreed-To Budget, Pension Reform Bills

By a vote of 25 to 1, the Senate Appropriations Committee amended Senate Bill 1073 (Browne-R-Lehigh) with the agreed-to General Fund budget framework and reported the bill to the full Senate.  
Click Here to read a copy of the bill as amended.
The Committee also amended and reported out Senate Bill 1082 (Browne-R-Lehigh) with compromise pension reform provisions by a vote of 21 to 5.  
Click Here to read a copy of the bill as amended.
         Senate marked calendar has Senate Bill 1073 budget bill and Senate Bill 1082 pension bill set for final vote today (Monday).
“This is what we have the votes for and what the Governor will sign,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre).  He said he believes the price paid for this budget is reasonable and one that is fair and solves the most significant problem facing the Commonwealth.
Sen. Corman said they are still working on options to fund the $600 million in new revenue needed to balance the $30.8 billion General Fund budget and help fund the $350 million in new education spending.
They are still looking at eliminating Sales Tax exemptions as the main funding source, but they have not said which ones.
He added the Governor is also prepared to sign the pension reform bill reported out by the Appropriations Committee tonight.  Sen. Corman called the pension bill an  “historic accomplishment” by any measure around the country and he isn’t ready to give that up for anything.
The amendment created a hybrid pension system effective July 1, 2017 for new state employees and January 1, 2018 for new school employees.
Sen. Corman noted they are still working on a liquor privatization bill that he said should be done this week and are also working on the other bills needed to implement the budget, including the Fiscal Code and Welfare Code.
Click Here to watch his comments.
House Has No Budget Plan
Meanwhile House Republican and Democratic leadership met Sunday evening which apparently resulted in no discernible game plan on how the two sides will move the budget process forward over the next few days.
Earlier Sunday, House Republicans canceled a planned Appropriations Committee which was to consider a new  barebones $30.3 billion budget without tax increases pushed by conservative members.
PLS: House Appropriations set to meet today Off The Floor on House budget vehicle: HB 1460 postponed from Sunday.
Click Here to read Senate Bill 1073 as amended.  Click Here to read Senate Bill 1082 as amended.
Interestingly, the Senate is now only scheduled to be in voting session December 7, 8, 9 for the remainder of the year, but that could change of course.  The House is scheduled to be in December 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16.
Drew Crompton, Chief of Staff for Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said in a Tweet this morning, “Let’s all agree to consider today June 27.”  Is he sending a message?
Op-Ed: Can State Prohibit Re-Run Of Budget Showdown?