After a tumultuous week in Harrisburg, the state House finally garnered enough votes to pass a revenue package to balance this year’s state budget. The package was adopted as part of House Bill 453 by a 103-91 vote. The bill now heads back to the state Senate for their consideration, and it will likely end up in a Conference Committee to work out the final details.
Although the final package was scaled back from the initial proposal, there remains a significant impact on transportation. The proposal would “transfer” $50 million from the Public Transportation Trust Fund (down from an originally proposed amount of $357 million); $50 million from the Multimodal Fund (down from $120 million); and $500,000 from the State Highway Beautification Fund. The reduced take from transit and multi-modal are a result of coordinated advocacy by the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition.
APC joined with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition (see earlier article) opposing any and all raids on transportation-related funds in order to balance the state’s budget. APC has remained steadfast in its position that transportation funds must be used for the transportation purposes they were intended and of which were promised to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
The process is far from over. We expect the Senate to consider the House’s actions and reject them outright thereby moving the issue toward a Conference Committee reconciliation process. APC will continue to monitor the state budget situation and report on any transportation-related impacts as they develop.
The transportation-related fund transfers were part of an overall $2.3 billion “budget-balancing” plan put forth by the “Taxpayers’ Caucus” in the House. The plan reportedly takes money from the following: $20 million from legislative reserve accounts, $1 billion by selling a portion of the Tobacco Settlement Fund’s Master Settlement Agreement funding stream over a ten-year period, $630.5 million in special fund transfers, $400 million in multi-year agency lapsed funds, $225 million in gaming reform proceeds, $50 million from additional Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board license transfers to “agency stores” that privately-owned retail liquor establishments that will serve areas in which state stores are losing money, and a $200 million transfer from the Joint Underwriters Association Fund. The plan is also counting on $200,000 from the Nationwide security data breach settlement and $8.3 million from the Mylan pharmaceuticals settlement to be put into the General Fund. It is also assumed the House will stand by its $225 million in gaming revenue that will come from a legalization of iGaming and potentially Video Gaming Terminals, which House Republicans are recalcitrant to drop as a priority revenue issue.