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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: May 4, 2023 02:43 PM
From: Representative Seth M. Grove and Rep. James B. Struzzi, II, Rep. Eric R. Nelson, Rep. Sheryl M. Delozier, Rep. John A. Lawrence
To: All House members
Subject: Budget Reforms Package
Budget Reforms Package Co-sponsorship Memos

Fiscal years covering 2016 and 2017 proved to be challenging budgeting years for the Commonwealth. Statutory provisions that govern the Commonwealth’s budget process and guide the executive branch’s budget management processes need repaired.

We are asking you to join us as co-sponsors of a legislative package that represents the most substantial budget reforms in decades.


Document #1

Introduced as HB1142

Description: Closing the loophole that allows an out of balance General Appropriations Act to become Law

The annual Pennsylvania budgeting process requires that an official revenue estimate accompany the General Appropriations Act to ensure that the total amount of funds that may be expended in a fiscal year does not exceed the official fiscal year revenue estimate. An official revenue estimate is necessary to ensure that the enacted General Appropriation Act is constitutionally balanced.

If the General Appropriations legislation is passed and exceeds the official revenue estimate, the Governor is required to use a line-item veto to bring the amount appropriated into balance with the official revenue estimate. In the event, the General Appropriations legislation becomes law without a gubernatorial signature, a loophole arises-as it did in 2016 and 2017.

In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that will require an official revenue estimate to be signed at the time the General Appropriations legislation is enacted, regardless of whether the legislation was signed by the Governor.

Document #2

Introduced as HB1143

Description: Ensuring a balanced budget amid revenue shortfalls

In fiscal year 2016-17 the commonwealth revenue collections slowed, resulting in the collections that were in the amount of $1.5 billion under the official estimate.

In a proactive measure to help facilitate improved budgeting processes and planning, I intend to introduce legislation that require that in December of a fiscal year, the Budget Secretary would be required to disclose the amount that revenues for the fiscal year will be under the official estimate. In addition, following the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) mid-year revenue conference, the Budget Secretary’s estimate will be revised each month.

Document #3

Introduced as HB1144

Description: Increased disclosure of information relating to special funds

While the development of PennWATCH and the State Treasurer’s public transparency portal have made progress in ensuring access to the Commonwealth’s financial data, detailed information relating to programs funded from special funds is not readily accessible.  This legislation would require quarterly reports to be issued by the administration on the amount committed and awarded from special funds that are used to provide grants and subsidies.  This will improve the ability of the legislature to exercise oversight over the funds.

Document #4

Introduced as HB1145

Description: Improving the flow of budgetary information

Identifying mandating costs has been a longstanding challenge for lawmakers as we review the state budget. There is a serious delay in information as it relates to mandated costs facing the Commonwealth and those costs are not clearly outlined or identified in the Governor’s budget proposal. 
To improve the flow of information to lawmakers, I intend to introduce legislation that would require annual reports be provided by the administration on federal and state mandates that have a fiscal impact to state level appropriations.
This legislation would require the Governor to provide legislative language to accompany the annual budget proposal. This is intended to address a long-standing issue that substantial policy initiatives relating to the Governor’s annual budget proposal are not presented in legislative form; therefore, leaving the legislature to speculate details.

Document #5

Introduced as HB1146

Description: Limiting the Budget Secretary’s blanket authority to waive lapsing provisions

In the near future, I will introduce legislation to reform the Commonwealth’s budget procedures to provide additional accountability and oversight.  This legislation will be substantially similar to HB 920 of 2019.

Under current law, the Budget Secretary has blanket authority to waive provisions relating to lapses, encumbrances, and major budget categories within amounts appropriated by the General Assembly.  This legislation will provide a more narrow, transparent, and accountable method for the Budget Secretary to manage the Commonwealth’s budget.

This legislation would set a reasonable time limit on the waivers before the funds lapse and return to the State Treasury.  Further, this legislation would prohibit using waived funds for the creation of a new or expanded program or initiative.