Wolf won’t sign $34 billion budget without key education policy

Pennsylvania

Update: The State Senate passed a budget Thursday and it was expected that Governor Wolf would sign it some time later that evening – but not so fast.

A late-night snag has pushed the budget deal until at least Friday, as the Sunday deadline for a budget looms.

The problem lies with a key budget-related bill that guides education policy – it hit opposition in the eleventh hour and stalled.

Dauphin County State Representative Patty Kim said Republicans and Democrats made an agreement that they would put career and technical education bills in the education code, and that agreement fell through.

Democrats wanted it to be reconsidered, but that request was voted down.

So, Democrats moved to vote down the entire education code, so that they could take more time to renegotiate and get resources that students need, Kim said.

She said democrats were adamant about getting it right, and they’re confident that an agreement will be reached.

“We wanted to make sure that the career and technical education resources were in the bill because it’s important to us, for the students and future jobs so I feel good about it, it’s a huge inconvenience,” said Kim. “A lot of my colleagues wanted to go home [Friday] night for summer break, but we wanted to do it the right way and we’re gonna spend another day working on it.”

Governor Wolf could have signed off on the $34 billion budget without that education code, but he’s not, because education is a big priority for his administration.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s Senate is sending Gov. Tom Wolf the main bill in a $34 billion compromise budget plan that uses strong tax collections to boost aid to public schools and universities, hold the line on taxes and put cash into reserve.

Thursday’s 42-8 vote comes amid a scramble in the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve hundreds of just-unveiled pages of budget-related legislation. The 2019-20 fiscal year starts Monday.

It authorizes almost $2 billion more in spending through the state’s main operating account, or 6% more, counting cost overruns in the current fiscal year.

It covers rising costs for prisons, debt, pension obligations and health care, while budget makers are using various cash maneuvers to veil the true cost of government operations by moving hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to outside accounts.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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