March 22, 2016

Sen. Fontana Introduces Bill Requiring Mandatory Negotiations To Resolve Budget Impasse

Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) introduced Senate Bill 1169 to mandate 10-hour-a-day negotiations starting July 1 if a General Fund budget bill isn’t passed. Click Here for a sponsor summary.
The bill would require the Majority and Minority Chairs of the Appropriations Committees, any other member designed by a leader of a legislative caucus, the Governor’s Budget Secretary and any staff member of the Executive Branch designated by the Governor to enter into these marathon negotiations.
The requirement would be suspended of a General Fund budget bill was reported from the Appropriations Committee of either chamber.  If that bill is not passed in 7 legislative days, then mandatory negotiations would start again.
“The current budget situation our state is facing is both unfortunate and unprecedented.  Pennsylvania is now operating under an incomplete spending plan because of increasing gridlock and failure to live up to terms of agreements,” said Sen. Fontana.  “Coupled with the fact that the budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year is scheduled to be unveiled in just a few short weeks will lead our state into unchartered territory in how budget frameworks are negotiated and enacted.
“Feeling the need to find a solution to prevent the current situation from becoming the new reality, I will be introducing legislation in the coming weeks that will lay out the protocol if the General Assembly fails to pass a budget by the constitutional deadline of June 30th.
“For months following the first gubernatorial veto last July, I continuously called for negotiators from all four legislative caucuses and the Governor’s office to meet all day, every day until an agreed to deal was reached which is exactly what my legislation will do.
“I feel that the Legislature and the Administration are no longer working in a cooperative manner to ensure that each represented party at the table keep their word toward those agreements.
“Clearly we need more laws in place to place even more urgency on the matter so that the state is not left in disarray and resident’s livelihoods aren’t at stake once again.
“I firmly believe that we need to get back to taking our constitutional duties seriously by passing a budget by June 30th each year.”
Sen. Patrick Stefano (R-Fayette) introduced Senate Bill 1129 March 7 designed to allow funding for certain critical services to continue during a budget impasse.  The bill is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Click Here for a summary.