HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)– The Pennsylvania state budget is mostly done after the state senate signed off last week, but it’s now up to the treasury to cut the checks for most and deny funding to some.
“Payments that are being made by check are either in the mail or will very soon be in,” PA Treasury Spokesman Erik Arneson said. “Essentially, everything is getting paid except for the items enumerated in the budget secretary’s memo.”
A memo from Senate Republicans says yes, the state will pay the lion’s share of its bills but items like criminal indigent defense, whole home repairs, and teacher stipends are back on the bargaining table.
“Until we have other pieces of this budget in place, we will have those dollars sequestered in the state treasury,” Majority Leader Senator Joe Pittman (R) said.
“So as part of the deal that’s been reached, the governor’s team is not going to send us payment requests for the items that were enumerated in that memo,” Arneson said.
It is an unusual perhaps unprecedented arrangement. The treasurer playing referee in a deal struck between Senate Republicans and the governor’s office.
“If for some reason a payment request did come over, we would not pay it because it needs authorizing language in the fiscal code,” Arneson said.
Could this become the new budget normal? Letting uncontested funding for schools and counties go and only haggle over items in dispute. No hostages held? But final deals delayed into the fall?
Arneson hopes not.
“I think everybody would agree that in an ideal situation, the budget would get done all at once. It’d be done on time or close on time,” Arneson said.
Of course, there are still hundreds of millions of dollars in dispute in the budget. When will those checks be flowing? That’s still anyone’s guess at the state treasury.