Lack of Pa. budget deal makes education officials nervous

    With no budget deal in place in Harrisburg

    With no budget deal in place in Harrisburg

    With little news of progress on the 2017 state budget coming out of Harrisburg, education advocates around the state are crossing their fingers a resolution comes soon.

    If not, Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said state-funded institutions will be in bad shape come fall.

    Schools used up a lot of resources during last year’s nine-month budget impasse, he said.

    “Many of them have had their credit ratings downgraded as part of the budget impasse, which either doesn’t allow them to borrow money, or sets up a very high interest rate,” he said.

    In fact, 14 percent of Pennsylvania school districts had to borrow money last year, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.

    The organization’s executive director, Jim Buckheit, said another delay could raise that number to 34 percent.

    “Following on the heels of last year’s nine-month budget stalemate, districts are not in a position to again keep schools operating without a state budget,” he said.

    Although his organization remains hopeful about this year’s budget, Robinson said, people are beginning to get uneasy.

    “Right now, we don’t have a budget in place, it’s July 6, and it’s bringing back some bad memories for a lot of people,” he said.

    Gov. Tom Wolf has until Monday at midnight to veto, sign, or change the budget proposal currently on the table. Otherwise, it becomes law by default.

    He has previously called the proposal unbalanced.

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