Treasury eyes request to exceed authorized prison spending

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 1, 2016 4:13 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is asking the Pennsylvania Treasury Department to pay about $200 million in prison costs without spending legislation that authorizes it.

Treasury officials aren't saying Tuesday how they'll handle it. Treasurer Tim Reese told lawmakers last week that he's considering the matter carefully.

Republican lawmakers say spending over the appropriated amount would set a far-reaching precedent that will upset the balance of power in Harrisburg.

But Wolf administration lawyers and the attorney general's office say such spending to protect the welfare of prisoners is warranted under the U.S. Constitution, even if it conflicts with the state Constitution.

Lawmakers approved $1.9 billion in December for prisons, but Wolf vetoed half of it in a wider budget dispute with lawmakers, and the state has spent up to the authorized amount.

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