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NPR News

Pennsylvania Says It Needs More Federal Aid To Make It Through COVID-19

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has clashed with Republicans over many of his decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. Faced with a nearly $5 billion revenue shortfall, though, Wolf and Republican leaders quickly reached a deal in May to pass a partial budget.

The five-month $25.8 billion spending plan will last through November for most items, but lawmakers approved 12 months of funding for education. Republican leaders said that was to assure parents and students that schools would open this fall and stay open.

When the temporary budget plan runs out, state lawmakers expect to face tough decisions, including how to fund programs that benefit people with intellectual disabilities, nursing home residents and victims of domestic violence. Those, and other programs under the state's Department of Human Services, will need nearly $4.9 billion more just to keep up with last year's spending.

"It leaves one huge cliff on the back end of this budget, and we need to be sober in the reality of the challenge before us," state Rep. Matt Bradford, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in May.

Wolf wants more federal relief money and the loosening of restrictions on existing funding so that state and local governments can use it to make up for revenue losses.

Ed Mahon is a reporter for PA Post.

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