Math behind state’s Rainy Day Fund deposit in dispute

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(The Center Square) – Lawmakers and Gov. Josh Shapiro find themselves at odds once again over the amount the administration deposited into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Office of the Budget said Thursday it transferred $411.6 million into the savings account, or about 10% of the $4.1 billion revenue surplus left over on June 30 – the end of the prior fiscal year.

Senate Republican leaders said, however, that the deposit should have been twice the size, accusing the administration of holding onto the money for a future spending spree.

Republicans in the House shared in the dismay, including Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Seth Grove, who dubbed Budget Secretary Uri Monson “the sheriff of robbingham.”

“By arbitrarily calculating the amount to be transferred into the Rainy Day Fund instead of following procedures that are well-defined and explicitly specified in state law, Monson is underfunding this vital government account by $486.7 million dollars!” he said.

In a letter to the treasurer, Monson said the state collected $44.9 billion and spent all but $4.1 billion. Per state law, the administration must transfer 10% of the surplus into the Rainy Day Fund before Sept. 30.

Critics in the legislature say, however, the administration’s calculations don’t include $1.5 billion in refunds and $811 million left over from the prior fiscal year. The state also received $2.1 billion from the federal government for enhanced Medicaid benefits.

According to Grove’s math, $8.9 billion sat in the state’s checking account on June 30, meaning the transfer should have been $898 million instead.

“I don’t know if this is incompetence, willful disregard for the law, or an attempt to create a controversy, and frankly, I don’t care,” he said.

In response, an administration spokesman referred The Center Square to Monson’s letter.

It’s not the first time lawmakers disputed the administration’s math, either. In March, Senate Republicans said Shapiro’s $44.4 billion budget proposal would actually cost $45.8 billion. According to legislative staff, the administration calculated the lower figure by incorporating $520 million in expiring federal Medicaid funding into its revenue total and removing $930 million spent on the Pennsylvania State Police out of the budget entirely.

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