Wolf Says Time is Running Out on Pennsylvania Budget Deal Before Downgrade

Matt Rourke  AP

After months of warnings, S&P Global Ratings has downgraded Pennsylvania's credit, citing concerns over its chronically unbalanced budget.

Citing the budget stalemate and the state's chronic structural budget imbalance, Standard and Poor's Wednesday lowered Pennsylvania's credit rating.

With the lower rating, Pennsylvania is now among the bottom five states rated by Standard and Poor's. No matter what the right-wing advocates say, a majority of Republican members of the General Assembly is simply unwilling to reduce state spending to the level necessary to balance the budget without new taxes - indeed they have taken credit for increased spending for education and human services.

Wolf opposes that plan, and Senate Republicans say just $140 million of that amount is actually available and not otherwise committed to a project.

Wolf has said he wants to get the budget done by October first.

The Senate will take up a house proposal that was passed lat week, which would take money from PennDOT and the E.P.A's coffers that are not being used.




Now, Republicans in the House and Senate will attempt to work with Governor Tom Wolf to figure out a compromise.

The House plan - developed largely by rank-and-file Republicans, including several midstate lawmakers - relies on $630 million in special fund transfers from state funds with excess or dormant monies. Their letter said further borrowing "creates an economic "moral hazard" that effectively increases the long-term risks to the commonwealth's finances" and that they were therefore "disinclined to support additional lending" to the state's General Fund.

"The Senate understood the need for urgency and acted responsibly in July to fully fund the budget and enact recurring revenues to eliminate the deficit, and my administration has tried for weeks to hold off a downgrade", he added, concluding that, "We must reach an immediate resolution to the budget and today's news should be a wake-up call to come together and end this now".

Democrats have accused anti-tax House Republicans for the downgrade, while House Republicans blame S&P and state officers who "refuse to pay bills".

Let's break down the current budget tale. That means counting on another expansion of casino-style gambling in the nation's No. 2 commercial casino state, an expansion that lawmakers haven't even approved.

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