WGRZ: PA Budget Impasse Affects School and County Funding
McKean County, Pa. – For the past few years New York has been able to pass an on-time state budget thereby reversing years of late state budgets in Albany. But now our neighboring state of Penna. has gone four months without a budget agreement. And that’s taking a toll on schools and county government.
Classes are still in session at the Otto – Eldred School District in Penna. But the district’s $11 million dollar budget is running thin as 80 percent of its funding from both state and federal sources is locked up in Harrisburg. That is because the Republican majority state legislature and the Democratic Governor Tom Wolf are still wrangling over over Penna’s state budget and revenue sources like taxes and natural gas well fracking. The financial impasse is now heading into its fifth month and forcing school districts to take drastic steps to stay open.
Otto-Eldred School Superintendent Matthew Splain: “400 Million dollars has been borrowed so far in Penna. to keep schools running. Like knowing right now that the money that we’re due is sitting in Harrisburg awaiting to be appropriated for us is kinda frustrating. We have federal money that we have waiting for us.but they can’t release that as per their budget guidelines.”
As the Governor and top lawmakers negotiate, some Penna. school districts are even talking about shutting schools or asking teachers and staff to work without pay. Otto-Eldred is not at that point but they’re trying to make ends meet as options on a whiteboard in Splain’s office indicate. Even so Splain says they must meet certain education requirements. “We don’t have a choice. We just have to keep our doors open. We have to do the best job we can for our kids and our community. So we roll with the punches as best as we can.”
McKean County officials say they’ve taken a three million dollar hit in state funding and the Human Service sector is suffering like programs for the disabled and children. County Controller Tom Ball says “That funding stream has stopped so pre-K programs in the various counties across the commonwealth are being affected by it.”
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