Three days until the PA budget is due – will it be done? 

June 27 – The Pennsylvania state budget is due to be completed by June 30. 

It’s not likely to meet the deadline, but how late will it be? 

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “There’s certainly a lot of waiting around. I understand there are ongoing conversations behind the scenes, and there’s what they call slow progress. The House has positioned a general appropriations bill on the House floor. So I am trying to be optimistic that in the next week, we will have some semblance of a budget to vote on.”

Has Governor Josh Shapiro been around? 

Kauffman confirmed, “I have not seen him.” 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “What’s the good and the bad of this whole process that we should be paying attention to as voters and constituents?”

Kauffman said, “Well, I’ve seen that as time goes on, things don’t generally get better. I am hopeful that this wraps up here in the next week, few days, because the longer it drags on, sometimes I feel like the more desperate people get and sometimes that leads to even more bloating than the current, I feel like the general appropriation bill that is currently under consideration, you’re looking at like $48 billion. So I would like to see it wrapped up. I can almost guarantee it’s not going to be a budget that I’m excited about, but it needs to be done, and we don’t want to see it drag on and very frankly, just a little bit inside baseball, a lot of the rumblings in the Capitol, there is another House Democrat who has gotten a job back in Philadelphia and rumor among the Capitol is that once this budget salvo is done, they will have another resignation and another inability to govern for a little while in preparation for another special election. So that has not been publicly disclosed. But the fact that this lady got a job back in Philadelphia has us all suspecting that we’re going to do this song and dance all over again.”

Will legalizing recreational marijuana be included in the budget? 

Kauffman said, “I’m actually optimistic that it will not. It is still a discussion. It’s certainly not off the table and I don’t want to call it not a deal until the budget is completed. Right now I’m not feeling that constant churn of that issue that would make me feel like it’s going to be part of this budget deal. So I’m hoping we pump the brakes and postpone that yet further.”

How much will our local school districts see in the budget? 

Kauffman said, “I certainly have not heard new numbers from what was passed by House Democrats, a couple of weeks ago. I suspect it’s going to be a significant increase. I feel certain that our local school districts are going to be just fine with the increase that they have proposed and actually passed in many cases and what they’re going to get from the Commonwealth. But those are some of the numbers that are being hammered out behind closed doors right now.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “Of course, there were 70 pages of that large 87 page bill that were really more involved with micromanaging and changing the way charters and cyber charter schools are funded. There’s been some pushback. There’s a lot of people worried that a lot of cyber charter schools could go away under this very heavily regulated way that they want them to be dealt with, not to mention the sort of one size fits all spend that may not be appropriate.”

Kauffman said, “I think that is one of the issues that is being dealt with among that omnibus education conversation is we don’t want to do things that are going to it be an impediment to whatever school choice we have, from the EIDC program that has been very successful, to also our cyber and charter schools. Yes, there’s always room for greater oversight. There’s always room for standards, but the idea should not be to be punitive towards our cyber and charter schools, but the reality is that’s what the other side wants. They want punitive cuts and punitive regulation over our cybers and charters because they want to put them out of business so that folks have to flee back into the traditional public schools.”