Govt. Affairs

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Yesterday, the General Assembly passed and the governor signed the remaining bills to enact the current fiscal year’s spending plan of $31.5 billion. To pay for the general appropriations bill, the Legislature adopted several tax increases and some new revenue streams. The cigarette tax was increased another $1/pack while e-cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco have now been added as taxable items.

Additionally, lottery winnings will now be assessed a PIT and a sales tax will be imposed on digital downloading of books, music, satellite radio, and streaming audio/video. The tax on table games was also increased by 2%, but will sunset in five years. Revenue streams for the fiscal year are also dependent upon several non-recurring sources; i.e., a number of transfers contained in the fiscal code such as transfers from:

  • The tobacco settlement – $28.5 million;
  • Recycling fund – $9 million;
  • The Building Pennsylvania program – $12 million;
  • The Volunteer Companies Loan Fund – $9 million;
  • The Alternative Fuels Incentive Fund – $5 million; and
  • Several gaming licensure fees.

Please contact Jack Phillips with any questions.

RCPA recently sent a letter to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee supporting SB 1305. Sponsored by Senator Yaw, the bill would require insurance coverage for abuse deterrent opioids that is equal to coverage of other opioids, while prohibiting higher copays for pills that cannot be crushed or diluted.

Gov. Tom Wolf also supports similar requirements contained in SB 1305. The governor has called for a requirement that all of the state’s physicians check patients’ drug histories in a new database every time they prescribe controlled substances, including opioids. Several important pieces of legislation have passed the Senate, and await action in the House. Currently, there are a number of bills in both the House and Senate dealing with the opioid crisis.

RCPA has been working with various groups and supports SB 1305, because it reflects the collective expertise and resultant recommendations of the Joint State Government Commission Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation. RCPA encourages its members to contact your state senator and ask for their support of SB 1305.

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Early yesterday evening, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved the changes made in the Senate by a 144-54 vote and sent SB 1073, the general appropriations (GA) bill, to the governor. The approved GA bill increases spending by $1.5 billion, or an increase of 5%. Even though the General assembly sent the GA bill to the Governor, the House and Senate still must come up with the revenues necessary to pay for the appropriations as set forth in the bill.

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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is poised to send SB1073, the General Appropriations spending bill, to the Senate today. The new budget bill authorizes important spending for all state programs – although SB1073 authorizes $31.55 billion in spending, the House will send the bill to the Senate without the requisite revenue to produce a balanced budget.

Highlights of the new budget plan includes:

  • $200 million of additional funding for basic education;
  • $30 million more for early childhood education;
  • $20 million more for special education;
  • $10 million more for early intervention services;
  • Flat funding for Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Lincoln University;
  • $15 million for the opioid crisis;
  • $5 million for “emergency addiction treatment through DDAP”;
  • $10 million for “behavioral health services” through DHS;
  • $80.4 million more is appropriated to reduce the waiting list; and
  • $31.2 million in additional funds devoted to services to persons with a disability.

According to Appropriations Chair Bill Adolph (R – Delaware), the proposed spending would be paid for by a mix of revenue sources: increased and new taxes on smoking related products ($480 million), additional revenue from the gaming expansion bill that still awaits a final vote in the House ($267 million), tax amnesty revenue ($129 million), the funds already projected from the recently enacted liquor bill, and $50 million from a license fee for a Philadelphia casino.

For members’ convenience, please see the summary of the House Republican budget proposal created by RCPA. Contact Jack Phillips with any questions.