Capitol Beat

Ward says budget talks ongoing, Senate to return in August

Republicans are ‘actively negotiating’ with Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward speaks at a Capitol press conference.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward speaks at a Capitol press conference. Commonwealth Media Services

The top-ranking Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate signaled Friday that the state’s ongoing budget impasse might soon end. In a statement released Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward said that the Senate Republican Caucus is actively negotiating with Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration and that the chamber will reconvene in August to finalize the state budget. 

“Senate Republicans are actively negotiating the budget with Gov. Shapiro and things are moving forward,” Ward said in the statement. “We understand the importance of getting the General Appropriations Budget to the governor before the school year begins, as well as funding for many organizations. “Once finalized, the Senate will return in August to complete the General Appropriations process which will allow funds to be dispersed in a timely manner to schools and organizations,” she added. 

Lawmakers left for the summer earlier this month without having fully finalized a state budget. Both chambers of the General Assembly approved a $45.5 billion general appropriations bill, but disagreements between Shapiro, House Democrats and Senate Republicans over a $100 million private school voucher program led to the current situation.

After Shapiro promised to veto the voucher program to allow the spending plan to advance through the state House, the GOP-controlled Senate never signed the bill, which prevented it from advancing to Shapiro’s desk. Ward added Friday that it’s not too late for Shapiro to reconsider his stance on the voucher funding. “The quickest and best path forward has not changed and that is for Gov. Shapiro to keep his word and sign the budget as passed.”

A spokesperson for Shapiro referred City & State to recent comments the governor made about the budget. Earlier this week, Shapiro urged the Senate to send the bill to his desk

“I’ve urged the Senate to come back and just do its simple job,” he said during a visit to Erie County on Tuesday. “By the way, it will take literally one minute for them to hand me the bill, and then I’ll be able to sign it.”