July 19 – The budget in Pennsylvania is now 19 days overdue. Both the House of Representative and Senate are in recess, so nothing’s happening at all.
In fact, neither Chamber is due to reconvene until mid-September.
But the thing is, a whole lot of organizations rely on state funding.
For instance, school districts.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “You saw several news stories yesterday. The pain is starting for some school districts. Several newspapers went around and interviewed superintendents in different districts and they’re saying they’re getting concerned now because they did not have much of a reserve fund. They’re on the verge of running out of money. They’re going to have to either take out loans or figure out some other way to keep meeting their week to week obligations.”
Nothing can be done with the budget until the House and Senate are either called back in for a special session or they return in September.
The big question is can the districts wait until then and even if they do, can the House and Senate agree on the numbers quickly enough to really help?
Barkdoll predicted, “I have a feeling that reporting from yesterday is going to be the tip of the iceberg. Week after week you’re going to see and hear more of these stories about school districts and county governments that are quickly running out of money to keep their programs going.”
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “I can’t help but think of a school board director in Chambersburg, who was taking heat and criticism, about you’re putting all this money in reserves. You’re not using it for the children. Well, he kept making the argument it’s important to have a healthy reserve. Here’s the scenario where that is justified, that they won’t be in as much trouble as other school districts that they can pull on that reserve.”
Barkdoll said, “Going back to Tom Wolf’s first year in office, we were eight or nine months past the deadline and major problems for school districts that had to borrow money to meet their obligations. So if you’re a district sitting on a healthy reserve of several months, you’re in pretty good shape. You’re in much better shape than these other districts that might only have a few weeks of reserves sitting there and they’re now going to be scrambling to figure out other ways to generate revenue.”