Q&A: What to expect from state government if Wolf, lawmakers can't agree on a budget

Pennsylvania might not have a budget in place when the new fiscal year begins. Here's a look at what to expect:

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Question: What will happen if Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature can't agree on a state budget by Wednesday, the first day of the 2015-16 fiscal year?

Answer: The impact in the short term should be minimal. Wolf advised state employees Monday to continue reporting to work regardless of the budget's status and said they will be paid on time for work they do. State agencies can use leftover cash from 2014-15 or special and federal funds to finance operations temporarily. But the state will lose the authority to pay its vendors, including providers of services ranging from legal advice to lawn mowing, for work done from Wednesday on. In a separate letter Wolf assured those stakeholders that delayed payments would be made once a budget is approved.

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Q: What other payments would be disrupted by an impasse?

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A: Billions of dollars in state aid to local school districts would remain in limbo until the budget is approved. County governments, which rely on state dollars to help finance child protective services and other social programs, also would be squeezed if state reimbursements are delayed too long, said Doug Hill, director of the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association.

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Q: How would the budget impasse affect poor, ill or elderly residents?

A: The Wolf administration says it would tap 2015-16 tax collections to continue services involving public health and welfare, including unemployment compensation, health care financed through Medicaid and home and community services for seniors and disabled people. Public safety agencies, such as state prisons and the state police, also would operate normally, administration officials said.

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Q: How common are budget impasses in Pennsylvania?

A: Impasses are not uncommon, but some stand out. In 2007, a budget deadlock that stretched more than a week beyond the deadline was settled only after Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell ordered a one-day furlough that idled nearly 24,000 state employees and closed state parks, museums and driver's license centers. The 2009 budget was approved only after a 101-day impasse as Rendell fought with lawmakers over a recession-wracked plan that required hundreds of layoffs and cut spending by 2 percent.