6-28-13: Update on Pennsylvania Budget

Sharon Ward |

Updated: A little after 8 p.m., the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee approved, in a bipartisan 9-2 vote, a welfare code bill with a provision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A full Senate vote is likely Saturday, but more work remains to be done in the House and with Governor Corbett. Look for more updates Saturday.

Earlier this afternoon, the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee approved the state-related university funding bills, sending them to the full House (Penn State – SB 725; Pitt – SB 726; Temple – SB 727; Lincoln – SB 728; and University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary and infectious disease programs – SB 729). All five bills passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday.

The Senate added $4.3 million, or 0.8%, in additional funding compared to the Governor’s February proposal. Penn State and Lincoln each receive $2 million in additional funding, with smaller increases for Pitt and Penn. Temple’s appropriation was not increased by the Senate. The Governor’s proposal funded these institutions at the same level as in 2012-13.

The Senate came into session shortly before 5 p.m. but quickly split up for caucus meetings. A Senate Appropriations Committee meeting is on the schedule for today — including a review of the House enacted budget bill (HB 1437), where it could be amended to reflect a budget spending deal. This same meeting was cancelled yesterday, so we shall wait and see.

If a budget bill is released, we will provide updates as soon as possible.

A meeting of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, scheduled for 3:30 p.m., was rescheduled to the call of the chair. The committee could consider an amendment to a welfare code bill to opt Pennsylvania into the federal expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. health reform law.

Meanwhile, 33 House Republicans signed a letter today saying they will vote against the budget if it or any related bills include Pennsylvania participating in the Medicaid expansion. Earlier in the week, 50 Republican members joined a press conference to oppose the expansion, but only 33 have signed onto today’s letter.

As we have written often in recent months, acting on this federal opportunity to expand health coverage will create jobs, strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy, and make its citizens healthier and more financially stable.