Wolf says time running out on budget deal before downgrade

As the budget stalemate continues feuds over spending plans have become increasingly regional and personal

Standard & Poor's (S&P) followed through on its threat to cut the state of Pennsylvania's credit rating.

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

The state treasury is sitting on $12 billion in rainy day accounts off this year's general fund budget, yet Pennsylvania won't pay its bills! "We agree with S&P's concerns about the need for stability in our financial plans to address the ongoing structural deficit".

After news of the downgrade broke, Governor Wolf called for swift action, "For months, I have warned that a credit downgrade was looming". "To us, this signals a lower rating". "In light of the downgrade, we believe it would be beneficial for quick agreement and concurrence in special fund transfers to help the treasurer expedite cash flow while we work on the remainder of the budget-related bills".

If the General Assembly had enacted the modest personal income tax increase Governor Wolf proposed in February 2017, not only would the budget be balanced this year, but there would be nearly no carryover deficit from last year.

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In July, the Senate backed a revenue package based on borrowing $1.3 billion in a securitization arrangement, to be paid back over 20 or 30 years.

"No doubt some Republican legislators and some advocates will say that the real cause of the budget deficit is overspending".

Pennsylvania has been without an operational budget since June, when the Republicans adopted a bipartisan spending plan of almost $32.0 billion. While Governor Wolf produces a budget plan that does actually reduce spending, they produce lists of fantastical proposals and claims of "waste, fraud, and abuse" that no one in their own caucuses even take seriously and that are never enacted despite overwhelming majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. Let the governor know you noticed his lack of responsibility in crafting a responsible budget while those who owed tax payments continued to meet their obligations on time. Neither has a say in approving the state budget.

"Meanwhile, the House Republicans were leading the way as they uncovered billions - yes, with a 'B"! - in extra funds.

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