2020-2021 budget talks resume with ‘a lot of unknowns’ Wolf says

    Gov. Tom Wolf briefs the media at Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency HQ in suburban Harrisburg on Friday, 3/6/20 (Screen Capture)

    Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that the General Assembly and the Governor’s office are working on a 5-month, temporary budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to account for uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    “I think all of us are struggling to figure out what the next few months will look like,” Wolf said during a joint news briefing with state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. He added that there are “a lot of unknowns,” in the state’s fiscal picture.

    With a bottom line rocked by COVID-19, Pa. lawmakers set to pass stop-gap budget this week

    Wolf said he’s unsure, even, what the federal government’s contribution to the state’s 2020-21 spending plan will look like, following the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) and other COVID-19 expenditures. The new fiscal year begins July 1. 

    As budget talks resume, Wolf said the first in-person press conference in Harrisburg could resume  as early as Friday. 

    With Dauphin County transitioning to yellow phase on Friday, Wolf said, “We are going to do whatever we can to make sure the right-to-know [requests] are acted upon,” but did not give a timeline of when they would be addressed. 

    In her update to reporters, Levine confirmed 451 new cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday. The Department of Health estimates a 61 percent recovery rate among COVID patients. 

    While the numbers fluctuate regionally, Levine said, “We continue to see a decline in cases statewide.”

    After getting reports of large gatherings over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Levine said the department will watch for a spike in cases.

    “There is still community spread of COVID-19,” Levine said. 

    Even in the green zone, Levine said, “We are not going to recommend large gatherings.” 

    She said the Department of Health still wants residents in the green zone to continue wearing masks and sanitizing to prevent a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

    While children have been largely unaffected by COVID-19, showing only mild symptoms or being asymptomatic, Levine said 17 cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome In Children or MIS-C have been reported in Pennsylvania. 

    Of those 17, Levine said two turned out to be negative, six are still under investigation and the remaining nine had been confirmed cases of MIS-C.

    Levine told parents to be aware of the following MIS-C symptoms: 

    • Fever
    • Rash
    • Swollen Lymph Nodes
    • Abdominal pain 
    • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.