PA Senate rejects proposed no-tax budget plan

Pa. Senate to Take Up House Revenue Proposal For Budget

"The downgrade largely reflects the commonwealth's chronic structural imbalance dating back almost a decade, a history of late budget adoption and our opinion that this pattern could continue", S&P analyst Carol Spain said in a statement.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania state government has less than two weeks to end a budget stalemate before the state's battered credit rating gets another downgrade and he must delay more payments for lack of cash.

House Republicans, however, pushed back on that concept and instead passed a revenue plan that relies heavily on what they call the $1 billion "sale" of a state "asset".

The budget bill also seeks a $1 billion lump-sum payment by selling rights to a portion of the state's tobacco settlement fund, which now receives about $350 million per year.

The Senate will take up a house proposal that was passed lat week, which would take money from PennDOT and the E.P.A's coffers that are not being used.

Senate GOP leaders responded by saying compromise must happen immediately and that they are standing behind the July budget package.

The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's lowered its rating on Wednesday to an "A+'".

"In reaching a final resolution, the budget must be balanced for this year and next", leaders said in a statement.

Pennsylvania has been without an operational budget since June, when the Republicans adopted a bipartisan spending plan of almost $32.0 billion.

"So what we have seen in the last five years is that right-wing legislators send press releases objecting to state spending totals, and refuse to fund the budget with recurring revenues, but never actually name, let alone enact the cuts necessary to balance the budget".

In a two-page letter sent September 12 to lawmakers and Wolf, state Treasurer Joseph M. Torsella and Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale, both Democrats, cited the state's imminent inability to pay its bills.

"Unfortunately for the citizens of the state, the sword has fallen today and we will all pay the price for the fundamentally irresponsible and dishonest approach to state budgeting taken by Speaker Turzai and his followers".

"Meanwhile, the House Republicans were leading the way as they uncovered billions - yes, with a 'B"! - in extra funds.

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