February 26, 2018

Wolf Sees Downgrade Without Budget Deal Soon

22 September 2017, 12:50 | Rex Hubbard

Wolf Sees Downgrade Without Budget Deal Soon

Pa. Senate to Take Up House Revenue Proposal For Budget

The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's lowered its rating on Pennsylvania's debt, citing the state's stubborn post-recession deficit and its history of late budgets, as well as Standard and Poor's belief that the pattern could continue.

In a news release Wednesday, S&P credit analyst Carol Spain offered several reasons for the downgrade of Pennsylvania's credit rating one notch to A-plus: the state's chronic structural imbalance dating back almost a decade; a history of late budget adoption; and S&P's opinion that this pattern could continue.

"The Senate understood the need for urgency and acted responsibly in July to fully fund the budget and enact recurring revenues to eliminate the deficit, and my administration has tried for weeks to hold off a downgrade". Call your state senators and tell them to approve the state House's no-tax-increase plan.

Governor Tom Wolf said if budget negotiations haven't progressed by next week, he'll "be forced to take further steps to manage this situation". That could mean more than $50 million in extra interest cost this fiscal year and every year after that, the governor's office said, particularly as lawmakers look to borrow $1 billion or more to help bail out the deficit. In statements, they said the legislature should compromise soon on a budget with stable funding. "To us, this signals a lower rating".

"We would still end up with a deficit at the end of the year", Corman said.

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In a two-page letter sent September 12 to lawmakers and Wolf, state Treasurer Joseph M. Torsella and Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale, both Democrats, cited the state's imminent inability to pay its bills.

Without a plan to close the $2.3-billion budget gap for fiscal 2018 in place, the two said lending to the state, under the current political climate, would be an economic "moral hazard" that would increase long-term risk.

"Meanwhile, the House Republicans were leading the way as they uncovered billions - yes, with a 'B"! - in extra funds.

"Unfortunately for the citizens of the state, the sword has fallen today and we will all pay the price for the fundamentally irresponsible and dishonest approach to state budgeting taken by Speaker Turzai and his followers".

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