Fiscal Code Veto Means Loss of Dollars to Education

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2015-16 PA budget was finalized last week as Gov. Tom Wolf allowed various appropriations bills to become law. Of the number of bills sent to the governor’s desk, only one – the Fiscal Code – was vetoed. The veto reduces by $439 million the amount of money that Pennsylvania’s public schools will receive – an interesting result given that the Wolf administration continuously pushed for more education funding during the budget impasse. Senate Republicans say that a $150 million increase in basic education funding and $289 million in school construction reimbursements can’t be distributed due to the Fiscal Code veto – a fact the Wolf administration is trying to make up for by proposing $200 million in PlanCon funding in the 2016-17 budget. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, decried the governor’s action as making the schools a pawn in a tax and spend agenda. “At the tip of the governor’s veto pen are schools left searching for ways to pay the interest on loans or school construction costs,” Corman said.

Capitolwire reports that the governor is defending his Fiscal Code veto by stating that the bill contained objectionable provisions including the funding formula for new money – which the governor agrees with, but only after more basic education funding has been distributed via the old funding formula – and a borrowing plan for school construction, which he claims would be too costly given the state’s current credit rating situation. It was further reported that the veto affects more than $25 million in agricultural funding, as the Fiscal Code bill would have allowed for spending from a restricted receipt account within the supplemental appropriations bill that became law.   House and Senate lawmakers returned to Harrisburg this week for session to examine the implications of Gov. Wolf’s veto and spending levels for the 2016-17 budget.