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Politics & Government

PA's Unfinished Budget Changes How It Assesses Revenue

Gov. Tom Wolf
The Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa., as seen on Aug. 21, 2015.

The revenue component of the state budget still isn’t done, more than a month past its due date.

But that doesn’t mean Pennsylvania has stopped doing business. It’s still spending and taking in money, and it’s still releasing monthly reports on how state collections are stacking up against projections.

The only problem? Because there’s no revenue plan, analysts can’t estimate exactly how much the state should be taking in.

The state’s recently-released financial report for July—the first month of the fiscal year—was missing its customary list of differences between revenue projections and actual collections.

Instead, analysts are relying on comparisons with last year’s numbers to tell whether Pennsylvania’s finances are healthy.

A spokesman for the revenue department said operations haven’t changed otherwise.

So how is the commonwealth doing?

Last month, it took in nearly 6 percent more than it did in July 2016. Personal income tax saw the biggest increase, jumping about nine percent. Sales and use tax revenue increased by roughly two percent over last year.

A cigarette tax also helped bolster numbers because it wasn’t in effect this time last year.

Non-tax revenue declined.

Meanwhile, there’s still no end in sight for negotiations on a revenue deal. After receiving a proposal from the Senate, the ball is in the House’s court to resume stalled negotiations.

So far, the chamber doesn’t have anything scheduled.