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Politics & Government

Wolf’s Budget Finale Leaves Some Loose Ends

Gene J. Puskar
AP Photo


The state spending stalemate is ending, but lawmakers could face some unfinished budget business.

While Governor Tom Wolf will let the rest of a state budget take effect, he’s vetoing companion legislation known as the fiscal code.

The fiscal code is often referred to as the budget’s instruction manual. Wolf’s office said this one had directions the governor didn’t appreciate – like wiping out new gas drilling regulations and authorizing borrowing to reimburse school construction costs (the governor said the debt service will be too expensive at this point).  

Republicans say they’re still not sure about the full effect of rejecting the fiscal code.

“If there are ramifications that we need to consider other legislation to rectify, we can do that in a timely fashion, I’m sure,” said GOP House Majority Leader Dave Reed.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said the fiscal code is “not necessary” to a completed budget.

But some say its rejection is a huge letdown.

Samantha Balbier, director of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, said tucked into the bill was a provision ensuring that child welfare services would receive a full year’s worth of state funding even if the next budget is also late by several months.  

“What I was told,” said Balbier, “was that it was absolutely crucial that this clause be passed to assure that child welfare agencies and providers receive their fourth-quarter payments.”

House Democratic Appropriations staffers called the provision a “security measure” that was made necessary because of an accounting change involving the state’s child welfare payments.