Pennsylvania preps short-term budget amid virus uncertainty


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state government is preparing a temporary no-new-taxes budget plan that maintains current spending levels while budget makers watch to see how badly tax collections are damaged by coronavirus-related shutdowns and whether the federal government sends another aid package to states.

Officials in the House and Senate Republican majorities said Tuesday that they expected to wrap up votes on a roughly $25 billion package this week.

The spending legislation has yet to be unveiled, and is expected to be accompanied by legislation that distributes approximately $2 billion in federal coronavirus emergency aid to nursing homes, agricultural programs, counties and more.

The $25 billion package would carry full-year money for many public school budget lines, as well as for state-supported universities, debt service and school pension obligations. But much of the rest of the state’s operating budget lines would be funded through Nov. 30, the last day of the two-year legislative session, Senate and House officials said.

Gov. Tom Wolf has warned that his office is projecting a budget deficit of up to $5 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year ending June 30, although perhaps $2 billion of that will show up in July and August after tax-filing deadlines were shifted from April 15 to July 15.

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