Health - February 5, 2016

2016-17 budget address next week, still unfinished 2015-16 budget

On February 9, Governor Wolf will give his budget address for 2016-17. He will stand in front of the legislature and the citizens of the Commonwealth to lay out his plan for the budget. Meanwhile, there is no agreement on a completed 2015-16 budget. Partial emergency funding was pushed through for some items but there’s still work to be done. According to a recent Franklin and Marshall poll, Pennsylvania voters are becoming more disillusioned as time wears on, with no budget deal. Up from October, two in three registered voters think that state is on the wrong track, with two in five believing that “governments and politicians” are the biggest problems facing the state. An additional four in five voters (82%) believe there needs to be state government reform.  Wolf’s approval rating is also down three percent from October but voters are also troubled by state legislators. Fifty-two percent of voters blame legislators for the late budget versus the thirty-two percent that blame the governor.

Governor Wolf and Majority Leader David Reed both tout optimism that a deal can be reached.  Wolf has been focusing on what he views to be the achievements of the past year while working on the budget. He said that they had worked out “a really interesting budget that does some unusual things;” but also expressed his frustration that it didn’t reach his desk. For the Majority Leader, he noted that key issues like taxes, pension and liquor reform will be where there needs to be agreement but that he does have hope for a compromise.

Whatever the final outcome, this is an election year, and voters will likely voice their displeasure at the polls. All House seats and half of the Senate are up for re-election making it for an interesting election season in Pennsylvania.