Negotiating the State Budget
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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Negotiating the State Budget

As we enter the month of June, the state’s budget negotiations shift into high gear. The state constitution requires the legislature to have a budget on the governor’s desk by the end of the month. The governor, however, is not required to sign that budget.

We are working towards the goal of a responsible, on-time budget with no tax increases.

Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed spending about $34.2 billion for 2019-20. The current budget has spending at about $33.2 billion, so it is important we control spending.

There has been a fair amount of attention given to the state’s projected “surplus” as this budget year draws to a close. We expect revenues to be $800 million above estimates when the fiscal year ends June 30. However, a genuine surplus would mean that the state has extra money, having brought in more revenue than anticipated and controlled spending.

Although the stronger-than-expected economy has resulted in higher revenues than were budgeted, the state has not kept spending at bay. Through supplemental appropriates, which are unilaterally approved by the governor, the state has spent over $700 million over budget. With a budget “surplus” of just over $800 million, nearly all the unanticipated collections have already been spent. Add to that increased borrowing that the governor approved last year on the Tobacco Settlement Fund and Farm Show complex. What’s more, this year’s overspending does not even begin to account for the $73 billion shortfall in our public pension system.

This year’s budget should focus on paying down debt, not contributing to it with more reckless spending.

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PennDOT’s Schedule for June 10 to June 14
  • Shoulder work on Williamsport Pike in Antrim Township, U.S. 11 (Molly Pitcher Highway) in Guilford Township, and Swamp Fox Road in Guilford and Antrim townships.
  • Crack sealing on U.S. 11 (Molly Pitcher Highway) and Black Gap Road in Greene Township.
  • Shoulder work on Leitersburg Road in Antrim and Washington townships, Harbaugh Church Road in Washington Township, Midvale Road in Washington Township, and Mentzer Gap Road in Washington Township
  • Bridge replacement on Stoney Batter Road in Peters Township. This will lead to a partial road closure.
Bills Advance to Grow PA Agriculture

Recognizing the important contributions of the state’s agriculture industry, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee this week approved a package of bills to support current and future farmers in the Commonwealth.

Among the bills approved by the committee are ones to create a Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to ensure a quick state-level response to threats such as invasive species or disease; establish a Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to help farmers create a business plan, transition plan or succession plan; and empower the State Conservation Commission to provide technical assistance and financing options for implementing best management practices.

To ensure our youth have greater exposure to and understanding of the importance of farming, other bills would revive the PA Farm-to-School Program to support child nutrition and reestablish the former Agriculture and Rural Youth Development Program to fund youth organizations that promote development in agriculture, community leadership, vocational training and peer fellowship.

Other measures aim to boost enrollment in the veteran farmer Homegrown by Heroes program, provide specialty crop block grants, aid with meat inspection costs for small or new processors and protect agritourism business from lawsuits where no party is at fault for injuries or damages.

The bills now go to the House for consideration.
Pennsylvania’s Ice Cream Trail

The state departments of Agriculture and Community and Economic Development have unveiled an expanded Pennsylvania Ice Cream Trail program for 2019.

The program includes a passport that visitors can have stamped at each of 32 stops along the three trails in eastern, southcentral and western Pennsylvania. More information about creameries on the trail, including a downloadable passport and prize information, can be found at Be sure to post your pictures to social media using the #PursueYourScoops hashtag.

The trails officially opened June 1 in conjunction with the start of Dairy Month in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth is ranked sixth in total milk production nationally, with 525,000 cows producing more than 10.8 billion pounds of milk each year. We have the second largest number of dairy farms in the country, second only to Wisconsin. The average herd size is around 80 cows, and 99% of all dairy farms in Pennsylvania are family owned.
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