PA's Year-End Surplus Is Official, But It Won't Last Long

Jun 24, 2019

State lawmakers now have the official report on the money Pennsylvania netted this fiscal year.

As expected, there’s a surplus.

But it won’t go nearly as far as some officials have hoped.

The Independent Fiscal Office said Friday that the commonwealth can count on ending the year with $910 million to spare. That’s a jump from their initial estimate of $866 million in May.

But the number dwindles when factoring in the amount the state overspent—$548 million. Gov. Tom Wolf said it mostly comes from unexpected Medicaid costs.

Lawmakers also tried to transfer $200 million from a state-created medical malpractice insurer for the third year in a row. But that money is tied up in court, so it’ll be made up with back-payments from the coming fiscal year.

That leaves around $162 million dollars. Wolf said he doesn’t want to spend it.

“I agree with the Republicans that we ought to put that into the rainy day fund—into our cookie jar,” he said.

A spokesman for Wolf noted, since budget negotiations aren’t yet final, the exact dollar amount that ends up in the rainy day fund could change.

Some Democrats have suggested other approaches—like putting surplus dollars into an emergency fund for school repairs.

Wolf said he doesn’t think there’s enough left over to make a difference, and maintains the state should fund infrastructure in other ways.