AP NEWS

The Latest: Key school bill blocked as budget deadline looms

June 28, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Latest on budget-related legislation moving through Pennsylvania’s Legislature before the 2019-2020 fiscal year starts July 1 (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

A key budget-related bill that guides education policy has hit opposition at the 11th hour in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives and remains in limbo with the annual fiscal-year deadline three days away.

Problems emerged Thursday night after the Republican-controlled Legislature had passed much of a $34 billion compromise budget package to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

The House is scheduled to resume session at 9 a.m. Friday.

Democratic Rep. Neal Goodman says he’s against the bill because the Senate eliminated provisions to foster career and technical education.

Republicans meanwhile protested a provision sought by Wolf to lower the age at which children in Pennsylvania must attend schools, from age 8 to 6.

Meanwhile, Republicans inserted some pet policy objectives into budget legislation that’s forcing Wolf into hard choices on other budget-related bills.

___

7 p.m.

Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature inserted some pet policy objectives into just-unveiled budget legislation with the annual fiscal-year deadline three days away.

That’s forcing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf into hard choices at the 11th-hour.

Measures sent to the governor’s desk Thursday include a $34 billion budget package and policy changes for elections, schools and human services.

One GOP-backed provision makes Wolf decide between eliminating a cash assistance program for the poor and continuing state subsidies for Philadelphia hospitals. Not one single Democratic lawmaker voted for it.

Another provision packages money to help counties buy new voting machines with ending a ballot option that allows voters to select a straight-party ticket in elections. Just seven Democrats voted for it.

Another sprawling bill stalls any move by Philadelphia to ban plastic bags that many stores provide.

___

3:35 p.m.

Pennsylvania’s Senate is sending Gov. Tom Wolf the main bill in a $34 billion compromise budget plan that uses strong tax collections to boost aid to public schools and universities, hold the line on taxes and put cash into reserve.

Thursday’s 42-8 vote comes amid a scramble in the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve hundreds of just-unveiled pages of budget-related legislation. The 2019-20 fiscal year starts Monday.

It authorizes almost $2 billion more in spending through the state’s main operating account, or 6% more, counting cost overruns in the current fiscal year.

It covers rising costs for prisons, debt, pension obligations and health care, while budget makers are using various cash maneuvers to veil the true cost of government operations by moving hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to outside accounts.

___

10 a.m.

Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature are inserting some pet policy objectives into hundreds of pages of just-unveiled legislation with the annual budget deadline days away.

That’s forcing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf into hard choices.

Measures advancing Thursday include a $34 billion budget package and policy changes for elections, schools and human services.

One GOP-backed provision could make Wolf decide between eliminating a cash assistance program for the poor and continuing state subsidies for Philadelphia hospitals.

Another provision packages money to help counties buy new voting machines with ending a ballot option that allows voters to select a straight-party ticket in elections. Another sprawling bill stalls any move by Philadelphia to ban plastic bags that many stores provide.

Wolf hasn’t said how he’ll handle those bills, including ones hotly opposed by Democratic lawmakers.