Earlier this week, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his final budget proposal before a joint session of the state House and Senate. The $43.7 billion plan includes a 16.62 percent increase in state spending over the current fiscal year.
As with his previous budget proposals, the bulk of the governor’s spending requests would go toward education and human services line items. However, unlike his prior plans, this year he did not call for any tax increases to help pay for the spending increase. That’s due in large part to an influx of federal stimulus money that has helped to offset state costs, as well as an increase in General Fund collections following the initial business shutdowns that took place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020.
While the state is anticipated to end the fiscal year with a multi-billion-dollar surplus, Republican legislative leaders universally have balked against the proposed large increase in spending and have cautioned against using all of the state’s reserves, citing a past history of budget breaking deficits.
Additional information on the governor’s budget proposal can be found in this Associated Press article.
Per the state’s constitution, a balanced budget is required to be signed into law by the end of the Commonwealth’s fiscal year, June 30.