July 15, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania has an annual budget - nearly nine months sooner than it took last year. The Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday approved budget bills that use new taxes on tobacco and digital downloads, and changes to gambling and wine sales, to pay for the $31.5 billion spending plan it passed last month. Gov. Wolf pledged to sign them. The swiftness of the deal, reached less than two weeks after the July 1 deadline, stood in contrast to the partisan divide that gridlocked the Capitol and overshadowed much of Wolf's first 18 months in office.
June 7, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - In the Capitol, the word hope is heard often these days. Hope that this year's budget talks will be less divisive. Hope that an impasse like the one that made history during Gov. Wolf's first year can be avoided. Even hope that a budget can be signed by the July 1 deadline. But with less than a month to go, few signs point to an easy or even swift resolution. While the beginning of June traditionally marks the unofficial start of budget negotiations, this is not a traditional year.
June 6, 2016 |
Bill Lyon has done it again, striking a chord with readers. Soon after the legendary retired Inquirer sports columnist disclosed he is battling Alzheimer's disease in a piece posted on Philly.com Saturday, and slated for publication in the Sunday Inquirer, a torrent of support from readers followed. Lyon's column, " My Alzheimer's fight: Never, ever quit ," has been shared on Twitter and Facebook, and emailed from friend to family. Online, commenters wrote in to celebrate the sportswriter, to cheer on his fight, and to thank him for sharing his experience.
May 4, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - The next state budget is not due for two months, but after last year's gridlock, legislators on Monday took a step toward preventing a repeat of the stalemate that kept school funding bottled up for months. Returning after a two-week recess, members of the House Education Committee approved a bill that would keep school funds flowing if a budget is not enacted by Aug. 15 - six weeks after the next fiscal year starts July 1. The governor's office and Republican legislative leaders were not admitting the need for such an insurance policy.
March 26, 2016 |
The crisis over Atlantic City's tapped-out cash reserves intensified in a 10-hour war of words Thursday, with the governor, mayor, and Assembly speaker all digging in to a stalemate that could shut City Hall from April 8 to May 2 and threatens to send the city off a financial cliff. But first, this being A.C., a word about the city's big Beer Fest, also scheduled for April 8: It's still on. In fact, said Mayor Don Guardian, nearly all 900 city workers, including police, fire, and public works, have agreed to work without pay when a broke government folds its cards for three weeks.
March 25, 2016
With no resolution to Pennsylvania's record nine-month budget impasse in sight and with public schools contemplating closure, Gov. Wolf has succumbed to Republican obstruction and agreed to a plan that keeps the state in the fast lane toward fiscal instability and educational decline. In the end, he was abandoned by fellow Democrats in the legislature who pleaded with him to accept a fiscally indefensible budget rather than keep trudging toward the end of the fiscal year with no budget at all. Of the many disappointments of this budget, the greatest is its failure to address the state's structural deficit, the stark difference between the state's spending and receipts.
March 25, 2016 |
In an unexpected and possibly unprecedented move, Gov. Wolf on Wednesday said he would let the latest $30 billion Republican spending plan become law, ending Pennsylvania's historic 266-day budget impasse. At a news conference in Harrisburg, Wolf reversed course on a promised veto by saying he would neither sign nor reject the proposal sent to him by legislators. Without either, it automatically becomes law Monday morning. Wolf said the Republican budget math "doesn't work" and he was loath "to put my name on something that I don't believe is exactly what we ought to have.
March 17, 2016
By Berwood A. Yost Why don't we have a state budget? The answer is neither short nor simple. Pennsylvania's budget impasse is the direct result of three state policy failures: the failure to find the reliable funding sources that state government needs to operate, the failure to reduce the spending growth that existing laws require, and the failure to support reforms that make elections more competitive. Corporate taxes as a share of general-fund revenues have steadily declined because the amount of money generated by those taxes has remained, in inflation-adjusted terms, unchanged since 1988.
March 17, 2016 |
Pennsylvania's lengthy budget impasse has caused the commission that accredits colleges regionally to question Temple and three other area universities about their ability to stay in compliance without a collective $600 million in state funding they have yet to receive. Temple, Pennsylvania State and Lincoln Universities, and the University of Pittsburgh must by April 10 provide a report on the effect the budget impasse has had on their operations, and detail their contingency plans.
March 14, 2016
The spectacular failure of Gov. Wolf and the legislature to deliver a budget has put every home, business, and school in Pennsylvania at risk. Without a better resolution to Pennsylvania's nine-month budget crisis, there are only bad choices to make: Raise property taxes. Cut programs for the most vulnerable citizens - the elderly, disabled, and young. Lay off school workers, and perhaps shutter schools, before June. It's been weeks since legislative leaders and Wolf met face to face.