State budget dramas: Latest in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware

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As the new fiscal year started for state governments this weekend, the tri-state area had a dubious distinction: Not one state had a budget in place on time.



As of  Monday, New Jersey’s state government was shut down. Pennsylvania’s legislature had passed a budget but no plan to pay for it. And Delaware lawmakers ultimately reached an overtime budget deal.

Here’s the latest on where things stand in each state, and what’s next.


New Jersey

The status: The state government is shut down, after lawmakers missed a 12:01 a.m. Saturday deadline to pass a balanced budget. That means state parks and beaches are inaccessible to everyone except Gov. Christie and his family, Motor Vehicle Commission agencies and inspection stations are closed, tens of thousands of state workers are being furloughed and most state agencies are operating in limited capacities. Some essential functions, like State Police, corrections and key child welfare services, remain in operation.

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The backstory: The crux of the impasse is that Christie has conditioned his support for the Democratic-controlled legislature’s budget on lawmakers’ passing of a bill that would restructure Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and require Horizon, the state’s largest insurer, to dedicate “excess” surplus to policyholders and public health programs. The demand has resulted in Democratic in-fighting. The state Senate has passed the Horizon measure but not held a vote on the budget. In the General Assembly, Speaker Vincent Prieto has refused to consider the Horizon proposal and pulled a budget bill when it failed to win majority support.

Read more: How health-insurer debate ground Christie’s Trenton to a halt

What’s next: Senate President Steve Sweeney and Horizon CEO Robert Marino are expected to meet at the Statehouse on Monday afternoon in an effort to break the impasse.

Pennsylvania

The status: State lawmakers have approved a new budget, but not a way to pay for it. The state House and Senate on Friday passed a $32 million spending bill, which now awaits Gov. Wolf’s signature, but not a revenue package.



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The backstory: Wolf and the legislature must figure out how to cover a project shortfall of $2 billion for the 2016-17 fiscal year and the one that just started. That budget gap has left lawmakers haggling for weeks to figure out how to pay for it. Discussions have included expanding gambling or borrowing money; Republicans in the GOP-controlled legislature have rejected Wolf’s calls to raise the personal income or sales tax, or enact a tax on natural-gas drilling.

Read more: Pa. Capitol’s ‘B’ word for solving budget woes: Borrowing

What’s next: Wolf has 10 days to sign the budget plan. He has praised the spending proposal but not indicated whether he would sign the plan without the revenue component.

Delaware




The latest: The Delaware legislature missed its budget deadline for the first time in decades, but reached a deal Sunday on a spending plan. The budget restores cut funding to nonprofits, public health program and schools, and raises taxes on real estate transfers, tobacco and alcohol, the Delaware News Journal reports. Gov. Jay Carney signed the budget early Monday.

The backstory: Budget gridlock had lasted for months over a Democratic push to raise the personal income tax and disagreement over changes to the prevailing wage for state construction projects, among other issues.





















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1 Philadelphia

Philadelphia News & Search

1 News - 1 eMovies - 1 eMusic - 1 eBooks - 1 Search


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