A look at the 2020-2021 stopgap budget: How Pa. is paying for prisons and COVID-19 relief | The Numbers Racket

By: - June 29, 2020 6:30 am

Pride flags are flown outside Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s capitol office (Capital-Star photo).

Due to the uncertainty of funding and expenditures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly passed a five-month stopgap budget for the fiscal year 2020-2021. 

For the most part, the funding in the $25.8 billion stopgap budget will remain at the same level as the 2019-2020, but there are a few areas where the budgets differ. 

In the first part of our multi-part analysis, based on data provided by Democratic staff on the House Appropriations Committee, let’s take a look: 

Department of Community and Economic Development

The Department of Community and Economic Development will be funded at five-twelfths of their respective 2019-2020 budget. 

The Department of Community and Economic Development will receive a new appropriation of $5.250 million to establish the State Facility Closure Fund, a fund to provide grants and loans to local municipalities affected by the closure of a state-operated or state-owned facility. 

Department of State

Like many other departments, the Department of State will be funded at five-twelfths of their respective 2019-2020 budget. 

The Department of State will receive a new appropriation of $5.250 million to the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority to pay debt service on voting machine reimbursement bonds, established by Act 77 of 2019. 

Department of Military and Veteran Affairs

While the state appropriations for Education of Veterans’ Children, pensions and the transfer of the Educational Assistance Program fund will receive 100 percent of their 2019-2020 budget, the following appropriations will receiving funding at the five-twelfths level: 

  • General Government Operations
  • National Guard Youth Challenge Program
  • Armory Maintenance and Repair
  • Burial Detail Honor Guard
  • American Battle Monuments
  • Special State Duty
  • Supplemental Life Insurance Premiums
  • Civil Air Patrol

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

PEMA’s general fund will receive the five-twelfths of their 2019-2020 budget, with the exception of the $16.7 million appropriated for disaster relief. 

Three federal appropriations received supplemental appropriations for 2019- 2020:

  • $55 million for COVID-PA Disaster Relief
  • $3.065 million for COVID-Emergency Performance Management Grant
  • $8.266 million for COVID-Emergency Food and Shelter Program

The COVID-19 Crisis Fire Company and Emergency Services Grant program (Senate Bill 1122) uses $50 million from money received by the commonwealth under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

$44 million … for the purpose of making grants to eligible fire companies, and $6 million … for the purpose of making grants to eligible EMS companies.

Included in the budget is funding for the Search and Rescue program, which is also based on five-twelfths of the 2019-2020 budget. Funding for Search and Rescue was not included in the 2020-2021 executive budget proposal.

Criminal Justice

The Department of Criminal Justice’s General Fund will be $110,00 shy of the five-twelfths rule given to other state departments and agencies. 

State Correctional Institutions are funded at greater than five-twelfths of the 2019/20 revised total by $21.7million. All other appropriations, once annualized, would be level funded to 2019-2020 amounts.

SCI-Retreat, which was scheduled for closure, was projected to save the department $43.9 million in 2020-2021.

Part two of our analysis will run on Monday, July 6.

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Cassie Miller
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.