State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Wolf: newly-bolstered reserve fund is 'pathetic,' but a big improvement

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 9, 2019 7:52 PM

Governor Tom Wolf, Treasurer Joe Torsella, and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman confirmed the rainy day fund deposit Tuesday. (Katie Meyer/WITF)


(Harrisburg) -- State leaders have confirmed that this year, they're poised to authorize the largest transfer to Pennsylvania's rainy day fund in years: $317 million.  

The fund has been in rough shape since the Great Recession, when then-Governor Ed Rendell used up all $755 million lawmakers had stockpiled.

That, of course, is the purpose of a rainy day fund. And it wasn't unheard of--during the 2001 recession, Governor Mark Schweiker drained a considerable portion of a more-than-billion-dollar reserve.

But after 2009, the state had trouble putting money back in.

Last year was the first time there'd been any major deposit, and it was $22 million--enough to run operations for just a few hours.

State Treasurer Joe Torsella said the latest deposit will improve that--though the progress is relative.

"With today's announcement, I think we're at approximately four days," he said.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf said the commonwealth still has "a long way to go" in building savings back up.

A three or four-day reserve is "pathetic," he said. "But it's better than zero days--better than a couple hours, which is where we used to be."

Torsella said on average, states' reserves can keep them running for about three weeks.

He recommended that Pennsylvania get more measured about its stewardship by, for instance, conducting a volatility study to see what reserve level it should ideally aim for.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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