State Government Update – February 9th, 2016

Volume 8 Edition 14

PJC Mission Statement: The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC), working individually and collectively with others, represents Pennsylvania’s Jewish communities before state government and with other Pennsylvanians. Jewish values guide the PJC’s focus on issues of importance to these communities, including public social policies and funding and regulation of the delivery of human service


Pennsylvania Fiscal Year 16-17 Budget Proposal – $2.72 billion increase for the House and Senate to Consider . . . Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has presented his budget proposal for Pennsylvania’s upcoming fiscal year (which is from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017). As Governor and House/ Senate leaders continue to negotiate the current budget – addressing the $7 billion shortfall, they now have to start considering the new budget proposal.

The Governor’s proposal is for a $33.2 billion budget (a $2.72 billion increase from the current budget version being debated). To gather the needed revenue for his expenses, Governor Wolf is asking the Legislature to consider a (an):

  • Increase in the Personal Income Tax (PIT) from 3.07 – 3.40 and inclusion of a PIT on lottery winners
  • Expansion of the sales tax in Pennsylvania to include basic cable/ movie tickets/ downloads
  • Increase in gaming tax on slots and table games
  • Increase in cigarette tax and expansion to include smokeless tobacco, cigars, e-cigarettes
  • Increase in the bank share tax
  • Tax on fire, property, & casualty insurance
  • 6.5% tax on oil and gas drilling – severance tax

As expected, the House and Senate Republican leaders have expressed their concerns regarding the proposed budget increase, tax increases, and new taxes — at a time when the current budget has still not been resolved due to arguments in budget increases, tax increases, and new taxes.

  • Pennsylvania Senate (30 Republicans – 19 Democrats -1 vacancy)
    The Pennsylvania Senate Republicans have indicated that they will not look at any budget increase nor a tax increase (new taxes included) unless pension reform is included
  • Pennsylvania House of Representatives (118 Republicans – 82 Democrats – 3 vacancies)
    The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Republicans have indicated concerns regarding a tax increase (of any kind – and new taxes) at this time

Over the next several weeks, the House of Representatives and Senate Appropriation Committees will be holding budget hearings with the numerous departments and agencies of the Administration to discuss their line items in the budget proposal as well as their current activities.

State Government Update – January 19th, 2015

Volume 8 Edition 12

PJC Mission Statement: The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC), working individually and collectively with others, represents Pennsylvania’s Jewish communities before state government and with other Pennsylvanians. Jewish values guide the PJC’s focus on issues of importance to these communities, including public social policies and funding and regulation of the delivery of human service


Letters for Support for an Israeli Consulate office in Philadelphia . . . With the unfortunate news of the closing of the Israeli Consulate’s office for the Mid-Atlantic Region, letters of support for the Philadelphia office to remain open are coming in from Pennsylvania’s elected leaders. Attached please see letters from Governor Tom Wolf, Senate President Pro-Tempore Joseph Scarnati, and House of Representative Speaker Mike Turzai. We are also learning that letters are also being written by Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, Representative Dan Frankel, and Senator Rob Teplitz.

With Governor Wolf’s Line Item Veto – What is Next? . . . This week, the Pennsylvania Senate will be concurring on the House of Representative’s fiscal code which enables the $22.3 billion to be allocated for spending.

Late last year, Governor Wolf approved $23.3 billion of the $30.3 billion spending plan using his line item veto power to remove the roughly $7 billion spread throughout the budget with a bulk of the cuts coming from the basic education subsidy, Pennsylvania state colleges and universities, state prisons, and medical assistance programs.

Using the line item veto, Governor Wolf has allowed some funding to be released to the schools (6 months of funding), $1 million additional funding to assist food pantries throughout the Commonwealth (a funding increase for the first time in 10 years), and the release of EITC letters to businesses.

With the signing of the fiscal code, the Pennsylvania House and Senate will hopefully to the negotiating table to push for the reinstatement of the money removed with the line item veto. However, at this time, it is uncertain as to the direction the House and Senate Leaders plan to take:

  • Will they come back to the negotiating table and push for a $30.8 billion budget with tax increases/or expansion and pension reform?
  • Will the House and Senate leaders try to override Governor Wolf’s line item veto (2/3 of the House and Senate)
    • 33 out of 49 votes in the Senate (1 vacancy at this time)
    • 134 out of 200 votes in the House of Representatives (3 vacancies at this time)
  • Negotiate into May and push for an 18-month budget (back date to January 2016 through the state’s fiscal year 16-17).

We are waiting to see the steps they will be taking to try and end this budget impasse.