Despite, or perhaps because of, a record revenue surplus, House and Senate leaders failed to reach a comprehensive agreement on spending for the 2022/23 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The stalemate, a result of philosophical differences over how and on what to spend the remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, as well as state revenues that far exceeded expectations set a year ago, plus several more or less budget-related issues that have pervaded the relationship between the General Assembly and the Wolf Administration for years, ultimately led to the parties missing the June 30 deadline. That deadline has been rendered relatively meaningless by court cases dating back to the Rendell Administration, taking any perceived pressure off legislators to heed the “guideline”. Now it is a matter of getting it done as soon as possible, meaning when the votes are there in both chambers to pass the spending plan and the ancillary “code” bills needed to define how the money is rolled out, in a fashion that the Governor will agree to sign. To get there, there will be a lot of “inside baseball” dealings to bring the members around, including numerous unrelated issues being tackled, many of which have languished in committees or on the calendars for months. Ultimately it will happen, but it’s anybody’s guess when, and what it will look like in the end.
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