shapiro budget lifeline scholarships

Gov. Shapiro’s Unfinished Budget Already in the Red

Pennsylvania faces a minimum $900 million deficit, while billions more remain in limbo.

Harrisburg, Pa., August 10, 2023 – Gov. Josh Shapiro’s incomplete inaugural budget runs—as it stands—a projected $900 million deficit, while billions of dollars remain in limbo, according to a Commonwealth Foundation analysis.

Shapiro approved $44.97 billion in general fund spending—nearly $1 billion more than revenue projections. Approximately $1.1 billion of the proposed spending requires additional enabling legislation—in a fiscal code bill—to pass before the programs are funded. 

Shapiro’s first budget has been mired in controversy since the governor broke his promise to deliver Lifeline Scholarships to students, leading to an ongoing budget impasse. Nathan Benefield, Senior Vice President of the Commonwealth Foundation, said Pennsylvanians could pay a major price for Shapiro’s budget bungling. 

“Gov. Shapiro is already overseeing the least productive legislative cycle in the last 50 years,” said Nathan Benefield. “Not only does the budget remain woefully unfinished, but it lacks the expansion of educational opportunity that Gov. Shapiro promised. Pennsylvanians have every reason to be skeptical of the governor’s ability to lead effectively in divided government.”

The Democrat-controlled House is on pace to hold just 45 total voting sessions in 2023, which would be the lowest total since 1964. Absent legislation, $1.1 billion in spending programs—including around $600 million for public schools—will remain sequestered.  

“Gov. Shapiro is touring the state claiming ‘mission accomplished’ to cover up for an incomplete budget and his inability to deliver on campaign promises and break the dysfunction that has defined his tenure in Harrisburg,” Benefield said. 

The full report can be found here.


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