The countdown to the new state budget has begun

It’s budget season in Pennsylvania, which means the competition between Democrats and Republicans is in full swing when it comes to the 2024-2025 Commonwealth Finance Bill.

With 11 trading days scheduled between now and the end of the month, you can expect to see phrases like “invest in Pennsylvania” and “financially responsible budget” common in the coming weeks.

PA budget deadline

Governor Josh Shapiro he has proposed a $48.3 billion budget that he says will still leave the state with a well rainy day fund even if all of his spending proposals are adopted.

Republicans, especially those who control the state Senate, disagree. They believe the $14 billion surplus will be eliminated within a few years, especially since the governor will start by committing $3 billion to spending in FY24-25.

The good news for Democrats controlling the State House is this according to the Independent Fiscal Officefiscal year-to-date revenues are $320 million above expectations, which includes a two percent enhance in May 2024 compared to May 2023.

The challenge is to close the $5.1 billion gap in public school funding that the Commonwealth Court ordered the General Assembly to address… in the coming budget.

This touches on a sensitive topic for lawmakers – school vouchers.

Last year, Republican senators felt betrayed by the governor after allegedly agreeing to the voucher deal, with Shapiro vetoing the programs when he couldn’t secure votes in the Democratic-controlled House.

With the parties back in their corners, Republicans are now trying to prevent a repeat. School choice advocates are well-funded and push their message to give students in struggling schools the chance to attend private schools. Public school advocates spend thousands of dollars on their call that any voucher program will harm these schools.

And Shapiro, who was still a bipartisan governor, would like to win by including vouchers for new investments in public schools.

“In June, you can expect the governor to continue to travel, meet Pennsylvanians where they are, in their communities, and talk about how we need to get on the issues that matter most,” the press secretary said Manuel Bonder.

Republicans also called for a historic tax cut that would save Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $13 billion over the next five years. The bill (SB 269) would reduce the personal income tax rate from 3.07% to 2.8% and eliminate the gross receipts tax on energy, effective January 1, 2025.

“As we face budget negotiations and pressures and pressures wherever we find ourselves, our Senate Republican caucus will continue to fight for Pennsylvania taxpayers first,” said the Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana). “There has been a lot of discussion about the $3 billion in additional spending. “Our view is that if we are going to invest $3 billion, we should invest it back into taxpayers.”

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