After a monthlong state budget impasse, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed a $45.5 billion budget into law on July 27. The impasse was largely the result of disagreement over a $100 million appropriation for a private school vouchers program that was included in the spending plan approved by the GOP-controlled state Senate. Initially, Gov. Shapiro publicly supported the funding program, but after intense negotiations with the Democrat-controlled House, who expressed their vehement opposition, Shapiro promised to line-item veto funding for the voucher program. The budget consists of a $567.4 million basic education funding increase and would expand funding for two educational tax credit programs by $150 million. The plan also allocated $100 million for Level Up funding for cash-strapped public school districts. Additionally, the spending plan also would deposit $500 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
While the general appropriations portion of the budget has been signed by the governor, budget-enabling code bills must still be passed in order for the appropriations to take effect. Code bills are pieces of legislation that direct how funding can be spent.
As the legislature prepares to gear up for the fall session, PAR continues to advocate for key legislative priorities set by the PAR Legislative Committee.
Municipal Code and Ordinance Compliance Act
PAR’s Legislative Committee voted to make House Bill 1567 (Malagari, D-Montgomery) priority legislation after its introduction in June. HB 1567, introduced by Realtor® champion Rep. Steven Malagari from Montgomery County, clarifies the Municipal Code and Ordinance Compliance Act (MCOCA) to ensure property transfers are not arbitrarily stopped by municipalities or their components or result in the displacement of renters from properties that are changing ownership. It further clarifies that temporary use permits can still be issued for renter-occupied property transfers, ensuring existing renters are not displaced due to minor code violations.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously approved HB1567 on Nov. 14, 2023. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
First-time Homebuyers Savings Accounts
PAR continues to advocate for the enactment of first-time homebuyer savings accounts in the commonwealth. PAR has partnered with Sen. Rosemary Brown (R-Lackawanna/Monroe/Wayne) in the Senate and Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) in the House to advance legislation.
Sen. Brown has introduced Senate Bill 295 and Rep. Bizzarro has introduced House Bill 126. These companion bills would create the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account program in Pennsylvania. If enacted, this program would allow first-time homebuyers to deposit money into a savings account, where it goes for the exclusive purpose of purchasing a first home, and the money can be deducted from their state income tax.
Senate Bill 295 was voted out of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on March 8, 2023, and currently awaits a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee. House Bill 126 has been re-referred to the House Housing and Community Development Committee on May 3, 2023.