State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

A proposed cure for mad dash of budget season

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 3, 2013 8:59 PM

A state lawmaker is making a pitch to take the drama out of the end-of-session budgeting frenzy.

Rep. Dan Truitt calls it a "cloud of uncertainty" - the annual appropriation angst that commences right around June every year in the Legislature.

Pro tip, offers the Chester County Republican - soften up the constitutional requirement that the budget be finalized by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

"It seemed to me that we should take the risk out of things for the public and make it so that if we don't have a budget on June 30, we just continue with last year's budget until we get it resolved," said Truitt, "so there's a means to pay people."

The recycled proposal requires a constitutional amendment, which means it would have to pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and then clear a voter referendum.

House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said it could remove the incentive for finalizing a spending plan. Truitt disagrees. The constitutional change wouldn't nix the June 30 deadline, it would just allow a contingency plan if the budget doesn't get done.

"The constitution says we have to get a budget done by June 30, so I'm still going to do everything I can to get it done by June 30," Truitt said. "It still looks bad to the public if legislators don't get their constitutional responsibilities fulfilled."

But the move could also free up $140 million- the amount of money that lawmakers have stashed away in surplus funds. They argue it helps them keep working in the event a budget deal drags on past June.

The emergency fund wouldn't be necessary under Truitt's proposal.

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