DeLissio: House should convene sooner, rather than later, to finish budget

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 4 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio said the House of Representatives should convene soon to work on completing a state budget for 2017-18.

“The state budget is indeed one of the most, if not the most, important responsibilities of the Pennsylvania General Assembly,” said DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila.

“The state budget for the new fiscal year that began on July 1 is still not complete,” DeLissio said. “The legislature approved a spending plan on June 30, and Gov. Tom Wolf permitted that bill to become law without his signature on July 10.

“Since that time, the House has convened one time on Saturday, July 22, and on that day we were in session for less than 10 minutes. The Sunday session was canceled,” DeLissio said.

The Senate was in the week of July 24 and passed five code bills (H.B.118, administrative; H.B.178, school; H.B. 542, tax; H.B. 453, fiscal; and H.B. 59, human services). The votes for these bills can be found at www.legis.state.pa.us.

“These bills are now in the House, and the bills are being reviewed and analyzed by House members,” DeLissio said.

DeLissio said she reminds constituents that the devil is in the details and said it appears that the bills would have both positive and negative impact on citizens. For example, a Marcellus Shale tax is included but so are environmental regulatory changes that benefit the natural gas industry.

Gambling expansion has been discussed as part of the revenue mix to close a $2 billion structural deficit, but no specifics for what type of gaming expansion would produce the revenue are included, DeLissio said. The bills also include an increase on the gross receipts tax on cell phones and natural gas customers.

The bills also include borrowing $1.3 billion against the state’s tobacco settlement fund. DeLissio said she will review the bills to understand their impact on constituents of the 194th Legislative District.

DeLissio also encouraged House leadership to convene session sooner than later to debate and vote on these critical pieces of legislation.

The House is officially on a six-hour call of the chair, which means that all members need to be prepared to be in Harrisburg within six hours of being notified that session will reconvene; generally, DeLissio said, leadership tries to provide at least one to two days’ notice.