Inside the Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg
By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
For The Post Publications
HARRISBURG PA – A Pennsylvania budget expert, who claims the state’s general fund will run out of money in three days, said Monday (Sept. 11, 2017) that programs from pre-kindergarten support to services for seniors – across western Montgomery County and elsewhere – are in jeopardy unless legislators finalize their 2017-2018 spending plan soon.
The budget took effect July 1, but the House of Representatives has yet to vote on a revenue bill already approved by the Senate. Jeff Garis, outreach and engagement director at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, was among those who joined a wide-raging coalition of organizations that occupied the Capitol rotunda Monday to warn of possible cuts.
It was the first day the Legislature was in session since early July.
The county’s western portion is represented in the House by
- Rep. Thomas Quigley, 146th District (Lower Pottsgrove, Pottstown, Limerick, Royersford, Perkiomen, Trappe);
- Rep. Marcy Toepel, 147th District (Upper and West Pottsgrove, Douglass, New Hanover, Green Lane, Lower and Upper Frederick, Lower and Upper Salford, Perkiomen, Schwenksville);
- Rep. Tim Hennessey, 26th District (Pottstown);
- Rep. Justin J. Simmons, 131st District (East Greenville, Pennsburg, Red Hill); and
- Rep. Michael N. Corr, 150th District (Collegeville, Skippack, Upper Providence).
Without a revenue bill in place, Garis claimed, a lack of general fund money potentially forces across-the-board cuts of up to 12 percent to a host of programs. He specifically cited “state funding for higher education, for all public education,” as well as human services like those for behavioral health.
The Republican leadership of the House indicated earlier it wants to find a way to balance the budget without raising additional revenue. Garis charged the plan it’s currently discussing would divert money from off-budget items such as emergency services, environmental cleanups, public transportation, and highway and bridge maintenance.
“They want to raid all of these funds, use it to patch up the part of the budget where there’s this deficit, and then they want to say that they’ve passed a reasonable and balanced funding plan,” he added. Garis alleged that failure to pass a revenue bill by a Friday deadline could lead to a billion dollars in cuts to education funding for this school year.
Photo by The Post Publications