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With No $2B Deficit, Wolf Says PA In ‘Pretty Good Spot’ Ahead Of Budget Deadline

Gov. Tom Wolf speaking at an event in Philadelphia.

The current Pennsylvania budget, which ends June 30, was more than four months late in being completed. Two years earlier, in Gov. Tom Wolf’s first year in office, the budget impasse lasted nearly nine months.

In February, Wolf unveiled a $33 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2019. That’s a $1 billion increase, or 3 percent over the current budget. 

There’s been little political rancor over the budget this year, compared to last when the governor and legislature were wrestling with a $2 billion deficit.

With a little more than three weeks remaining untill the budget deadline, Wolf said it’s been a fairly quiet process this year.

“I think it was a fairly modest ask, and the hard work that we all did over the last few years has really paid off,” Wolf said.

The Department of Revenue reported Fridaythat tax collections through the first 11 months of this fiscal year are $121 million ahead of projections, and according to Wolf, he thinks the revenue upswing will continue into the new budget year. 

"We seem to be in a pretty good spot," he said. 

Wolf’s budget plan calls for a severance tax on the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, which he estimates will bring in about $247 million annually. He said that according to the Independent Fiscal Office 80 percent would be paid by non-Pennsylvanians.

“That should be an easy lift for legislators,” Wolf said.  He added if the tax is not approved, his spending plan can still be balanced. “But the severance tax would give us the resources to make our schools and our roads and our bridges even better.”

Wolf said he believes the budget will be passed on time or early into the new fiscal year. 

“In an election year, most people who are standing for elections would like to get this over and done with and get out to the hustings, as they say,” Wolf said.

So, does that include Wolf? 

“Well ... yeah.”