General Assembly Finalizes Budget Bills, Break for Summer
The House and Senate both met in session the first week of July last week to finalize the state budget and most of the bills needed to authorize spending for 2013-2014. Both chambers broke for summer recess and are scheduled to return to session on September 23. However, the House is expected to return to session before then to meet briefly and finalize the Fiscal Code bill, which is the final piece of legislation needed for the new budget year.
The $28.375 billion budget for the state’s 2013-2014 fiscal year increases total spending by 2.3 percent over the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Basic education will see a $122 million increase, while higher education, as well as public libraries, remain at 2012-2013 spending levels.
The Center for Local Government Services received a separate line item of $7.3 million, which was previously part of the Department of Community and Economic Development’s general government operations budget. Funding for the Municipal Assistance Fund (a combination of the former Shared Municipal Services, the Land Use Planning and Technical Assistance, and the Floodplain Management programs) remains at 2012-2013 levels.
The Pennsylvania State Police saw an 8 percent increase in their general government operations to $191 million and will add three cadet classes for a total of 290 troopers. At the Department of Environmental Protection, the Sewage Facilities Planning grants were funded at $200,000, with priority for municipalities in counties of the sixth, seventh, and eighth class, but the Sewage Enforcement Grants were not funded. Grants to the arts remained level at $8.2 million. Several programs within the Department of Agriculture that were originally a target of elimination this year were instead funded at increased levels compared to the prior fiscal year, including Agriculture Excellence, PA Preferred, Hardwoods, and Livestock and Open Dairy Shows.