Pennsylvania Senate rejects no-tax budget plan

Governor Tom Wolf Talks Budget Issues

The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's lowered its rating on Pennsylvania's debt, citing the state's stubborn post-recession deficit and its history of late budgets, as well as Standard and Poor's belief that the pattern could continue.

"The downgrade largely reflects the commonwealth's chronic structural imbalance dating back almost a decade, a history of late budget adoption, and our opinion that this pattern could continue", said S&P analyst Carol Spain in a press release. Governor Wolf and the Senate are at odds with the House on how to fully fund the budget that became law back in July, and reaction to the downgrade broke along those lines.

Both the Senate and House are split on whether to raises taxes as lawmakers mull borrowing $1.0 billion or more to bail the state out of a projected $2.3-billion deficit. Call your state senators and tell them to approve the state House's no-tax-increase plan.

The Senate will take up a house proposal that was passed lat week, which would take money from PennDOT and the E.P.A's coffers that are not being used.

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The downgrade means Pennsylvania will pay more to borrow money: an estimated $10.0 million for every billion dollars the state borrows or refinances.

"In reaching a final resolution, the budget must be balanced for this year and next", leaders said in a statement.

"No doubt some Republican legislators and some advocates will say that the real cause of the budget deficit is overspending".

Lawmakers authorized almost $32 billion in spending on June 30 and have grappled ever since with how to fully fund it.

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Wolf, who allowed the imbalanced budget to pass without a signature, vowed on Monday that legislatures would agree on a spending plan before October 1.

The House plan - developed largely by rank-and-file Republicans, including several midstate lawmakers - relies on $630 million in special fund transfers from state funds with excess or dormant monies. The action caused a lot of dramatic words from state leaders and many calls to settle the budget, but no signs of compromise.

"Unfortunately for the citizens of the state, the sword has fallen today and we will all pay the price for the fundamentally irresponsible and dishonest approach to state budgeting taken by Speaker Turzai and his followers".

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