- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Highlights of the main budget bill passed Thursday by the Pennsylvania Legislature, hours before the start of the state government’s 2016-17 fiscal year. Other pieces of the budget package, including revenues to balance it, remain in the works.

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THE BIG PICTURE

The budget would increase spending through the state’s main bank account to just over $31.5 billion. That is an increase of $1.5 billion, or 5 percent, from the state’s prior enacted budget. The full spending authorization is an increase of $1.7 billion, or almost 6 percent, including $95 million in capital project funding moved into an off-budget program and approximately $100 million in supplemental spending approved for the just-finished fiscal year. The state also must pay new obligations on school construction bonds that could be issued soon.

Wolf had initially proposed a budget of nearly $33.3 billion. Budget makers reduced that by moving $400 million in capital project funding off budget, scaling back more than $300 million in discretionary spending on education, and cutting nearly $700 million from the Department of Human Services, in part by revising caseload projections and putting off planned initiatives. Annual debt obligations were about $100 million less than projected because of delays in issuing bonds during the past year’s budget impasse.

STATE TAXES

Budget makers projected that, under current law, the state will collect $31.6 billion in taxes and fees, before paying $1.3 billion in refunds. However, they have projected a hole of more than $1 billion in the spending plan, and there was no agreement on how to fill it.

They also have not identified a way to pay for capital project funding and school construction funding programs that will no longer be funded through the state’s main bank account.

SPECIFICS

- Increases spending in the Department of Human Services by $537.3 million, or nearly 5 percent, to nearly $12 billion.

- Increases spending on pension obligations by about $450 million, or 5 percent, to $2.6 billion.

- Increases aid for public school operations and instruction by $200 million, an increase of 3 percent to $6.1 billion.

- Increases spending in the Department of Corrections by $153 million, or 7 percent, to nearly $2.4 billion.

- Increases aid to higher education, including state system universities, state-related universities, student grants and community colleges, by $39 million, or 2.5 percent, to above $1.6 billion.

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