Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pa. Senate leader says budget talks are progressing despite being past deadline

Joe Pittman.
Matt Rourke
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol after Gov. Josh Shapiro delivered his budget address for the 2024-25 fiscal year, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa.

As the fiscal year heads into week two, Pennsylvania is still without a budget.

Despite missing the June 30th deadline, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, remains optimistic about crafting a spending plan.

“I would say that the conversations continue to be productive,” he said. “The conversations continue to be cordial. All parties are engaged in trying to deliver a responsible product.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a $48.3 billion budget in February. Pittman said he is confident the final number will be less than that, though he did not offer details of how much.

In June, he said he was confident a budget would be finalized in early July, a sentiment he still holds.

“I still believe that a budget can be achieved in a timely manner in a way that will not impact adversely the people of Pennsylvania,” he said. “And hopefully, in the next several days, we’ll see that conclusion happen.”

WESA Inbox Edition Newsletter

Stay on top of election news from WESA's political reporters — delivered fresh to your inbox every weekday morning.

Education continues to be an area of disagreement between the caucuses.

In February 2023, the Commonwealth Court ruled the state’s system of funding public schools is so unfair to lower-income districts that it is unconstitutional.

Pittman says a disagreement lies in how the funding formula should work.

“I believe that there was a disagreement on the [Basic Education Funding Commission] between how the data was accumulated either through a census-driven process or a self-reporting process,” he said.

He said census data is important to ensure dollars are given out in an accurate manner.

Currently, schools are funded mainly by local taxes. This means school districts in high-income areas with higher taxes are better off than schools in poorer areas.

The state does provide some funding, with this year’s proposal earmarking $1.1 billion for basic education.

Pittman previously addressed reporters in June noting that besides education, human services was an area of struggle, though there is not much disagreement over addressing those needs, he said.

“It’s trying to manage the amount of resources we put into those areas while not adversely impacting the rest of the budget,” he said.

The House and Senate’s schedules for this week have flipped multiple times. The House was to be in session Monday to Wednesday, while the Senate was to be in session every day but Independence Day.

The Senate canceled Friday’s session but planned to return this weekend. The House scheduled a non-voting session for Friday, with plans to return Saturday and Sunday. But late Friday, the House and Senate canceled the Saturday session.

Shapiro frequently mentions that Pennsylvania has the only divided state legislature in the nation with a GOP-controlled Senate and a Democratic-controlled House.

Despite that, Pittman said this year’s budget negotiations are going much better than last year’s.

“We really are committed to the notion that divided government shouldn’t be dysfunctional government,” he said.

Read more from our partners, WITF.

Updated: July 5, 2024 at 4:56 PM EDT
This article has been updated to note the House and Senate will be in session this weekend on Sunday only.