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Senator Pat Browne

Senate Appropriations Committee Report
October 2016

Committee Website

Inside this Edition

  • Lottery Shortfall Predicted by Administration
  • Performance-Based Budgeting
  • State Spending on Overtime
  • Employment Data by County
  • September 2016 Rev. Estimate vs Actual
  • Monthly Revenue Detail

Where We Are In the Annual Budget Process

On October 7th, state agencies submitted their budget requests for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017. The Governor’s Budget Office will spend the next six weeks reviewing agency requests and beginning to prepare the Executive Budget that will be presented in February.

Administration Predicts Lottery Fund Shortfall

The Administration recently released a concerning financial projection for the state’s Lottery Fund – a $70 million deficit for next fiscal year. The Pennsylvania Lottery supports programs like pharmaceutical coverage, property tax / rent rebate, senior centers, and long-term care services that benefit Older Pennsylvanians.

As recently as fiscal year 2013-14, the Lottery Fund had a year-end balance in excess of $275 million. A deficit of the magnitude the Administration is predicting equates to approximately four percent of ticket revenues for the entire fiscal year. Despite the movement of $125 million of long-term care service spending to the General Fund last year, the Lottery Fund continues to struggle financially due to flat revenues over the last few years.

Senate appropriations staff believe the Administration’s revenue estimates could be optimistic, which means the Administration could be under-stating the potential Lottery Fund deficit next year, and there is a possibility the fund could run out of money this year. Appropriations staff will continue to monitor the health of the Lottery Fund to determine what actions are necessary to ensure the fund’s solvency.

Performance-Based Budgeting Advances in the Senate

On September 20, the Senate Appropriations and Policy Committees held a joint hearing to learn from national, state and local budgeting experts about how performance-based budgeting can improve transparency and decision making in the Commonwealth’s budget process. The hearing also discussed Senate Bill 1341 (Senator Mensch), which would expand the Commonwealth’s use of performance-based budgeting.

The Commonwealth’s current approach to budgeting was last modified in 1978 and focuses on analyzing programs through a series of reviews and measures of program performance, which are typically counts of inputs or outputs, such as the number of individuals served by a particular program. This program budget model has led to what many view as an incremental approach to budgeting in which the previous year’s budget becomes the base for next year’s budget with increases added on top. While the Commonwealth has developed nearly 700 measures for its programs, those measures rarely focus on the outcomes of programs and are not used to determine budget allocations.

“Performance-based budgeting focuses on linking spending with the activities that are purchased or performed, thereby providing greater visibility into the services governments provide.”

Government agencies can also benchmark, or compare, their performance measures against those in other jurisdictions to see how effective and efficient their programs are relative to others. And by reviewing academic research into what programs work, performance-based budgeting gives decision makers the ability to determine if the programs they fund actually work.

Senate Bill 1341 requires performance-based budget reviews as part of the Commonwealth’s annual budget process beginning in Fiscal Year 2018-19. The Independent Fiscal Office will conduct the performance-based reviews and develop performance measures and a performance-based budget plan in conjunction with state agencies and the Governor’s Budget Office. The bill also establishes a performance review board and requires each agency to undergo a performance review at least once every five years.

On September 28, the full Senate passed Senate Bill 1341 by a margin of 33-17. The proposal now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

September 2016 Revenue Update

Revenue Estimates versus Actual Revenues

General Fund revenue collections for the month ended September 2016 totaled $2.63 billion, which was$144.9 million, or 5.2%, below estimate for the month. Fiscal year-to-date collections total $6.6 billion, which is $218.5 million, or 3.2%, below estimate for the year.

September’s overall corporation tax collections were below estimate by $49.9 million, or 9.5%, for the month. Quarterly estimated corporate net income (CNI) tax payments were $24.3 million, or 6.2%, below estimate for the month.

Senate Appropriations

Annual corporate net income tax payments were $23.4 million, or 22.2%, short of estimate for the month. December is the final quarterly estimated tax payment month for 2016 CNI tax payments, and so the weakness evident in September could be repeated in a few months when quarterly estimated payments are due once again.

Sales and use tax (SUT) collections were under estimate for the month by $20.5 million, or 2.5%. Non-motor SUT was below estimate by $14.6 million, or 2.1%, for the month, and SUT on motor vehicles missed the estimate by $5.9 million, or 4.6%.

Personal income tax (PIT) collections were below estimate by $36.6 million, or 3.3%, for the month. Employers’ withholding was $11.8 million, or 1.6%, below estimate for the month, and non-withholding payments were under estimate by $24.8 million, or 6.3%.

Senate Appropriations

Realty transfer tax (RTT) was below estimate by $8.3 million, or 16.6%, for the month. Inheritance tax collections were $15.3 million, or 19.1%, short of estimate for the month. Table games tax collections exceeded the monthly estimate by $138,229. Liquor tax collections were $1.3 million, or 5.0%, above estimate for the month.

Cigarette tax collections missed the estimate by $11.3 million, or 8.9%, for the month. Cigarette taxes were increased by $1.00 per pack beginning August 1, and so cigarette tax collections will include substantial new revenues for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Non-tax revenue collections missed the estimate by $3.7 million for the month.

Motor License Fund collections were $1.9 million above estimate for the month of September.

Unclaimed Property – United States Savings Bonds

The U.S. Treasury Department has been selling United States savings bonds since 1935. It is currently estimated that the U.S. Treasury is holding about $17 billion in matured U.S. savings bonds.

“Out of the billions of unclaimed U.S. savings bonds currently being held by the U.S. Treasury, approximately $650 million is attributable to citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Due to long maturity periods, U.S. savings bonds continuously remain unclaimed because their owners are unaware of their status as bond owners. Moreover, some owners cannot successfully fulfill U.S. Treasury’s procedures for redeeming matured savings bonds because the bonds have been lost, stolen, or destroyed. In addition, the United States Treasury Department currently lacks a meaningful apparatus through which the owners of these matured bonds can receive the proceeds of their investments.

Act of 85 of 2016 allows the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to escheat title to unclaimed bonds belonging to citizens of Pennsylvania so that they may be incorporated into the Commonwealth’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property, which can ultimately utilize its resources to reunite lost, abandoned, or forgotten bonds with their rightful owners.

The law of escheat authorizes states to obtain title through an established state judicial process to matured but unredeemed bonds purchased by state residents, redeem those bonds, and then leverage the state’s unclaimed property process to locate the original bondholder and return those funds to the bondholder. Act 85 of 2016 allows the Pennsylvania Treasurer to claim U.S. savings bonds after they have reached maturity and a three-year dormancy period has lapsed. In addition, the act provides that an individual making a claim for a bond that escheated to the state pursuant to this law may file a claim, and the Pennsylvania State Treasurer will pay the claim upon receiving sufficient proof of the claimant’s entitlement to the bond.

Act 85 of 2016 utilizes Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property to the benefit of the citizens of Pennsylvania by providing them with a better opportunity to receive the proceeds of these bonds. Moreover, the act provides notice and due process to all affected Pennsylvania bond holders that their unclaimed U.S. savings bonds have escheated to the state in order to provide them with an opportunity to claim what is theirs before the Commonwealth can take title to the bonds.

Overtime Numbers Update

During the first quarter of the fiscal year, Commonwealth agencies spent $58.8 million on overtime. Department of Corrections overtime spending represented 44 percent of all overtime, followed by PennDOT, State Police and the Department of Human Services.

Senate Appropriations



Contact Senator Browne:

On the Web:

702 W. Hamilton Street
Suite 101
Allentown, PA 18101
Toll-Free: 1-800-280-7728
FAX: 610-821-6798
9 AM to 5 PM
9 AM to 4 PM

281 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
FAX: 717-772-3458
TTY: 800-364-1581
9 AM to 4:30 PM

Western Lehigh County
Upper Macungie Township Building
8330 Schantz Road
Breinigsville, PA 18031
FAX: 610-366-2329
By Appointment Only

Northern Lehigh County
North Whitehall Township Building
3256 Levans Road
Coplay, PA 18037
FAX: 610-769-5568
By Appointment Only





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