Business as usual despite no signed Pa. budget

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HARRISBURG — Another day has gone by without Gov. Tom Corbett signing the state budget the Legislature sent to him on Monday night, but what does that mean for the average Pennsylvanian?

Not much, it turns out.

Without a signed budget, state government operations continue pretty much as normal, at least in the short term. Mr. Corbett’s administration has said federal funds and money remaining from the previous fiscal year, which ended Monday, can be used in the meantime.

The governor has declined to say how long he is willing to go without a budget in place; if he were to not sign or not veto the budget, it would become law July 11.

Even without a budget, state employees continue to report to work and are paid, said Dan Egan, a spokesman for the Office of Administration.

In budget standoffs during the administration of former Gov. Ed Rendell, that wasn’t always the case. In one year, thousands of employees were furloughed for a day, and in 2009, Mr. Rendell’‍s administration forced some state workers to have so-called “payless paydays.” The state Supreme Court ruled that can’t be done in any future budget disputes.

“The lack of an active budget is not going to result in the disruptions we experienced in previous times,” Mr. Egan said.

Pennsylvanians looking to celebrate the July 4 holiday weekend at a state park will find business as usual. All state parks will be open, employees will be on the job, and all reservations will be honored as usual, according to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages the parks.

“We have tons of events on our calendar, and we don’t anticipate that our visitors will notice anything out of the norm,” said Chris Novak, a DCNR spokeswoman.

PennDOT Driver’‍s Licence Centers also will be operating as normal.

“There’s no disruption of services that the public expects every day,” said Rich Kirkpatrick, an agency spokesman.

Other services that continue without interruption include unemployment compensation and state-administered social services.

A tax employers pay primarily funds unemployment compensation, and the state general fund budget doesn’t impact it, said Sara Goulet, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor.

“People file as they normally do. They are paid as they are normally paid,” she said.

The Department of Public Welfare, which administers programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, services for people with intellectual disabilities, adoption and foster care services, subsidized child care and a host of other programs is “fully operational,” said Kait Gillis, an agency spokeswoman. Many of its programs are fully or partially federally funded.

The bulk of state money allocated to public school districts doesn’t go out until late August, so it wouldn’t be impacted in the short-term, said Tim Eller, a Department of Education spokesman.


Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.

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