House Bill 218 – the bill that is expected to eventually contain the language for the state General Fund budget – advanced in the state House last week, receiving second consideration on the floor before being re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

The current version of the bill sets state spending for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year at $29.45 billion – the amount that was spent in 2015-16 and well below what Gov. Tom Wolf proposed in his $32.3 billion budget address in February. However, while lawmakers are aware that this is unlikely to reflect the budget that eventually becomes enacted; they are just looking to move the process forward with hopes of getting the budget signed into law by the June 30 constitutional deadline.

“I think it helps us getting more serious and getting members more focused on moving the budget forward,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor, R-York, told The PLS Reporter, adding that he would like to have a budget vehicle to the Senate before the Legislature recesses in mid-April in advance of the Easter holiday.

Saylor’s committee also advanced legislation last week that would limit the amount of authorized debt the Commonwealth can use for capital projects, which is similar to debt reduction bills the legislature has passed in recent years that takes a conservative approach to the state’s debt management.