PA Senate rejects proposed no-tax budget plan

PA Senate rejects proposed no-tax budget plan

PA Senate rejects proposed no-tax budget plan

Standard & Poor's (S&P) followed through on its threat to cut the state of Pennsylvania's credit rating.

In a news release Wednesday, S&P credit analyst Carol Spain offered several reasons for the downgrade of Pennsylvania's credit rating one notch to A-plus: the state's chronic structural imbalance dating back almost a decade; a history of late budget adoption; and S&P's opinion that this pattern could continue.

It also lowered its ratings on Pennsylvania's appropriation debt to "A" from "A+", as well as warned investors of the state's failure to meet its "moral obligation" to balance budgets.

Lawmakers authorized almost $32 billion in spending on June 30 and have grappled ever since with how to fully fund it.

Wolf opposes that plan, and Senate Republicans say just $140 million of that amount is actually available and not otherwise committed to a project. "I have said repeatedly for three years that we must responsibly fund the budget with recurring revenues", he said.

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The Senate has not yet taken action on the plan, while the state treasurer and auditor general have refused additional lending to the general fund. And then, the House passed a plan that not only raided special funds, but included other phantom revenues from liquor and gaming legislation that has not been, and most likely will not be enacted, phantom revenues from unspecified lapsed funds, and phantom revenues from a proposal that was rejected by the courts previous year. Perhaps the clanging of the sword will awaken the many responsible Republican legislators in both the House and Senate and lead them to demand serious action to resolve the budget crisis quickly and reasonably. But the House has opposed the tax increases.

When Tom Wolf became governor, he proposed an aggressive and fair tax policy to close the deficit.

"If an agreement has not progressed by next week", the governor's statement said, "I will be forced to take further steps to manage this situation".

Senate Republicans shot back saying they agree with S&P's concerns about fiscal stability.

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody of Allegheny County called today's news a blow to the state's fiscal standing, but also an opportunity for everyone to get back to work on a "real budget solution".

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