HARRISBURG (February 10) – State Senator Andy Dinniman has introduced legislation that calls for enacting real consequences on Pennsylvania lawmakers and the governor if a state budget is not passed on time.
Under Senate Bill 1124, the legislature must remain in continuous session, meeting every day without leave, without pay, without reimbursements, and without per diems, if a complete budget is not passed and signed by July 1. The same goes for the governor, his senior staff and cabinet members.
Dinniman said his legislation comes in response to the ongoing budget impasse, now in its eighth month. On Tuesday, Governor Wolf delivered his budget address for 2016-17. Meanwhile, the 2015-16 budget remains unresolved.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania’s budget runs past the July 1 deadline 37 percent of the time.
“Pennsylvania is facing a financial crisis, and it is time to impose drastic consequences when the legislature and the governor’s office don’t do their jobs,” he said. “It’s time for all sides to come together and resolve both the past budget and upcoming budget. Meanwhile, steps must be taken to ensure that budget stalemates, like the one we are currently experiencing, never happens again.”
In addition to requiring legislators and the governor to forfeit their salaries and reimbursement payments when budgets run late, Senate Bill 1124 also calls for the following:
- Requiring the legislature to vote on and pass a complete budget plan by May 1 – two months before the current deadline – in order to allow additional time for negotiations in case of a veto.
- Requiring any meetings between legislative leaders and the governor after June 30 must be open to the public.
“There is no question that entering a fiscal year without a finalized budget has potentially disastrous and widespread impacts. Other states have enacted measures to help avoid budget stalemates and to spur lawmakers to action when partisan gridlock begins to set in. It is time for Pennsylvania to do the same,” Dinniman said. “When budgets run late, the legislature, the governor and the cabinet – not the people – should face consequences of not fulfilling their constitution obligation to provide of an on-time budget.”