After a month-long delay, Governor Josh Shapiro has signed the $45.5 billion FY24 budget into law. The bill makes important investments in several key areas, including education, community and economic development, indigent defense, infrastructure, and resources for law enforcement and first responders, among others. While both chambers of the General Assembly had approved a $45.5 billion spending plan by early July, the budget was not able to be officially finalized until Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) called the chamber back into session for Thursday, August 3, in order to avoid further delays in critical state education and human services payments.
The primary sticking point was a $100 million line item for a controversial school voucher program — dubbed “lifeline scholarships” by proponents — which Governor Shapiro agreed to veto in order to persuade House Democrats to pass the budget back on July 5, despite having worked across the aisle to help create it. This week, Governor Shapiro honored that line-item veto commitment and also agreed to reserve a $1.1 billion portion of the spending plan for the time being for continued negotiations among lawmakers. This means funding will be delayed for mental health grants, public defenders’ offices, a home repairs program, “Level Up” funds targeted to the state’s poorest schools, and hospital emergency relief.
Legislative leaders acknowledged the need to continue negotiations on budget-related “code” bills as these pieces of legislation specifically dictate how money in certain general fund line items are distributed. Code bills sometimes also include policy changes that are negotiated by all four caucuses and the Governor. There is no timeline for when these budget-related bills might pass. Historically, changes to the Entertainment Production Tax Credit program have taken place in a budget-related code. This is the case for both funding changes and programmatic changes. So while some of the FY 2023-24 has been completed, our advocacy to increase the film tax credit continues as decisions on this program have not yet been finalize.
In other news…Democratic state Representative Sara Innamorato resigned from the PA House on Wednesday, July 19, in order to focus on her campaign for Allegheny County executive, which she is favored to win. This marks the third time this year that House Democrats will be forced to defend their majority, as the chamber is now tied once again at 101-101. Lindsay Powell has been selected as the Democratic nominee to fill the now-vacant House District 21 seat for a special election that will take place on Tuesday, September 19, before the General Assembly reconvenes in the fall. If elected, Powell would be the first Black woman to represent the district. The Allegheny County Republican Committee selected Erin Connolly Autenreith as their nominee for the special election. Autenreith, of Shaler Township, is a Realtor who also chairs the Shaler Township Republican Committee.
Below is the fall session schedule that has been announced by both chambers.
September 18, 19, 20
October 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25
November 13, 14, 15
December 11, 12, 13
September 26, 27
October 2, 3, 4, 16, 17, 18, 30, 31
November 1, 13, 14, 15
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 email@example.com