State Senate Called Back to Complete Budget

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Washington) announced this week that the Senate would return to Harrisburg on Aug. 3 to “finalize the General Appropriations Budget.” In an interview last week, Ward signaled that she would be willing to call the Senate back into session by mid-August if an agreement is reached with Governor Shapiro on the budget. The Senate adjourned in June until Sept. 18 after negotiations broke down with Shapiro over including a school voucher program in this year’s budget plan. The Senate adjourned without finalizing the budget, and therefore the Commonwealth has been operating for the past month without 2023-24 fiscal year spending authorization.

In Ward’s statement, she said:

“I am calling the Senate back to session at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, to finalize the General Appropriations Budget (HB 611). Signing HB 611 will provide the necessary funding to schools, counties, and organizations completing 75% of the budget. The remaining 25% of the budget requires legislation to authorize expenditures. Gov. Shapiro has provided us the necessary assurances to guarantee the monies for those programs will remain untouched until the legislature has finalized the language. Senate Republicans will continue to negotiate with our counterparts in good faith and in the best interests of Pennsylvanians. We hope our counterparts will do the same.”

What does this mean for transportation? APC is optimistic that finalizing the state budget will free up an additional $125 million in funding for PennDOT. The $125 appropriation in the budget resulted from an agreement to accelerate the phase-down of State Police funding contained in the Motor License Fund. Shapiro had proposed a five-year, $100 million phase down, but the General Assembly seemingly wanted to accelerate this by including a $125 FY2023-24 line item. The specific details will need to be outlined in the “remaining 25%” of budget-related legislation that Ward referenced in her statement which still needs to be resolved with Shapiro and the House Democrats.

APC is optimistic these steps will resolve the state budget impasse, and we’ll continue to report progress over the next several weeks.