Governor Ed Rendell and top Pennsylvania lawmakers are waiting until later in the week to start cutting up to 850 million dollars from the state budget that counts on that amount in additional Federal Medical Assistance Program (FMAP) money.
In the meantime, they’ll wait for a Washington vote on the federal aid.
Rendell and caucus leaders discussed the potential 850 million dollar funding gap during a brief conference call this morning.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican, 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.
"I think it’s reasonable – it’s now Monday morning – to wait until Wednesday morning. If, however, the timeframe gets pushed to a September timeframe, then I think it’s incumbent on us to implement contingency plans."
A cloture vote in the U.S. Senate 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.
Pileggi wants Rendell to cut the basic education increase.
"So 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."
In an interview last week with WDUQ reporter Scott Detrow, Rendell admitted that most of the increase in basic education funding would probably have to go.