Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lawmakers May Have to Work Overtime on Budget-Funding Plan Governor Has Warned of Steep Cuts by Week's End

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lawmakers May Have to Work Overtime on Budget-Funding Plan Governor Has Warned of Steep Cuts by Week's End

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG- The pressure is on.

Gov. Tom Wolf has said that by the end of this week, he will have to make steep cuts to the $32 billion budget the Republican-controlled Legislature passed in June unless the House of Representatives moves on a proposal to fund it.

Although the House returned to session this week after a six-week summer hiatus, Republicans who hold the majority in that chamber remain divided over a revenue plan. On Tuesday, leaders adjourned without a vote on one approach to close the $2.2 billion deficit- by transferring money from special-purpose funds.

In the meantime, a credit rating agency has warned of a looming downgrade. And state Treasurer Joe Torsella, along with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, on Tuesday said they would be "disinclined" to either extend a short-term loan or sign off on short-term borrowing in the bond markets to help the state pay its bills.

"My obligation as treasurer is to make only prudent investments of the funds under our care, not to enable continued budgetary dysfunction and a chronically unbalanced budget," Mr. Torsella said.

After the House adjourned Tuesday without a vote, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said the chamber intends to push out a proposal this week, even if it means lawmakers must work through the weekend. Representatives are scheduled to reconvene Wednesday.

House Republicans are discussing ways to amend a plan presented last week by a group of rank-and-file members, many of them fiscal conservatives. Their plan would balance the budget by raiding special funds earmarked for a range of services, from toxic-site cleanups to mass transit.

The proposal has come under scrutiny from Democrats, including Mr. Wolf, who has called it "nonsense." And even some Republicans have balked at some of the proposed fund transfers. It did not appear Tuesday to have enough support to pass the House, and Republicans were working on changing portions of the plan. …

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