FMAP update: an evening Senate vote is scheduled

Governor Rendell and top lawmakers are waiting until later in the week to start cutting up to 850 million dollars from the state budget. In the meantime, they’ll tune into CSAN tonight to see what happens with a Senate vote on the federal assistance.

Rendell and caucus leaders discussed the potential 850 million dollar funding gap during a brief conference call this morning. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says the consensus is to wait and see whether the U.S. Senate can pass a bill authorizing the extended medical assistance in the coming days.

A cloture vote is scheduled for tonight. If 60 lawmakers support the funding boost, a final vote could come tomorrow.

Even if the bill passes, Rendell and leaders will likely need to trim money from the budget. Pileggi says the latest bill would only give 70 percent of the expected aid to Pennsylvania, which means 255 million dollars would need to be cut. Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma says the 70 percent figure is “in the ballpark” of what the Administration expects to get.

The projected best-case reduction is roughly the same size as the basic education increase in this year’s budget, and Pileggi says he and other Republicans expect the boosted school district funding to be the first thing chopped off, when Rendell begins freezing money.  “School districts, over a two-budget cycle, have seen a dramatic increase. And a reduction still puts them well ahead of where they were two years ago,” he argues.

The Senate vote is scheduled for 5:45 PM.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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