|Posted:||January 14, 2016 11:32 AM|
|From:||Senator Patrick J. Stefano|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Budget Impasse Legislation|
| In order to ensure that key programs in the Commonwealth continue to receive funds during a budget impasse, I am introducing legislation that creates the Commonwealth Budget Impasse Act.
This act creates a Budget Impasse Critical Services Fund, and lists the line items in the budget that will be included in this fund. During a budget impasse, several line items in the budget – including various programs under the Department of Human Services and appropriations for local school districts and higher education assistance grants– will continue to receive an appropriation. In order to qualify as a “critical service,” the line item must have received an appropriation during the prior fiscal year. Programs and initiatives that receive funds through the State Lottery Appropriations, Tobacco Settlement Funds Appropriations and Motor License Appropriations will continue to be receive an appropriation in the same amount from those funds as during the prior fiscal year.
Beginning on July 15 of the fiscal year for which a budget has not been enacted, the Office of the Budget will determine the aggregate amount received from the General Fund for the named programs during the prior fiscal year. The Treasurer will then transfer from the General Fund 8.33 percent of that amount by the 15th of each month for as long as the budget impasse continues. Each program shall, on a monthly basis, receive 8.33 percent of the amount that it received during the prior fiscal year. When the budget impasse ends, the amount that the critical services provider has received from the fund during the impasse will be reconciled against the total amount it is entitled to receive for entire fiscal year.
Under the act, Commonwealth officials and employees are not permitted to travel in the performance of official duties, except in an emergency situation, during the impasse. Members of the General Assembly may not collect per diems or submit expenses during the impasse, and, once the impasse is resolved, retroactive payment of those per diems and expenses is forbidden. Legislators are also barred from producing and distributing any communication materials that are paid for by the Commonwealth. All websites and social media accounts maintained by State employees will be frozen until the impasse is resolved.
If you would like to co-sponsor this legislation, please contact Ben Wren or Greg Beckenbaugh in my office at 787-7175.
Introduced as SB1129