Pennsylvania Budget Remains in Limbo

By Erin McGuire

Contributing Writer

November marks the fifth month that Pennsylvania has been without a state budget.

According to Pa.gov, every year at the end of June the state must approve a budget that sets funding for the following fiscal year.

If a budget is not approved, however, the Commonwealth is prohibited from making any payments.

No state budget means no money for schools. Without aid from the government,  many schools are struggling to find ways to pay their employees, vendors and other manufacturers.

Districts have been left with no choice but to take out loans and ask teachers to work with-out pay. Some worry that they will have to discuss shutting down the schools.

“Our administration is working with districts and Treasury to offer intercept agreements to school districts that will guarantee loans for districts and enable them to obtain lower interest rates on the loans,” Governor Wolfe’s spokesman, Jeffrey Sheridan, said in a statement to Pittsburgh’s action news center.

“Governor Wolf also supports an appropriation in the final budget that reimburses districts for any interest accrued on loans taken out as a result of the impasse,” the statement continued.

School districts are not the only ones being affected by the budget impasse.

Though the government’s website states that they will continue to make payments to “all areas that affect the health, safety, and protection of Pennsylvanians or as required under Federal Law, state court decisions or the Pennsylvania Constitution,” this does not include grants, which affects many college students.

According to the PHEAA’s website, where one applies for a state grant, they cannot confirm any awards or send out funds until the state budget is decided.

The website also states that once the state does finally decide on a budget they will review the awards and send out notifications, but it could take up to a month until the final eligibility is viewable and the school is able to receive them.

Additionally, the university budget passed by ESU’s Council of Trustees is subject to change depending upon the state budget and what is included in it.

Regardless, it is not known when the Governor will sign the state budget.

According ESU’s website, more than 75 percent of students receive some sort of financial aid.

If each of those students applied for a state grant and did not receive it, it could amount to a rather large problem.

PHEAA can give up to $3,000 to each student. When combined with other loans, that could be enough to pay off one semester.

Therefore, not getting this grant could possibly keep students from being able to pay for the semester.

With some students having to deal with grants not paid this semester, there is fear of what is to come. Students are staying hopeful for a budget decision to be made soon.

Email Erin at: emcguire1@live.esu.edu

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