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Pennsylvania finishes year $3B behind because of pandemic

HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania state government finished its fiscal year about 9% short of its initial revenue estimate, a result of the state’s coronavirus-related shutdowns and delayed tax-filing deadlines, the Department of Revenue said Wednesday.

The state collected $32.3 billion for the 12 months through Tuesday. That was about $3.2 billion less than projected at the beginning of the fiscal year.

June’s shortfall alone was $577 million, with most of it, or $444 million, due to reduced economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said. It estimated that the rest of the shortfall is because due dates for various taxes were moved to July or later.

Pennsylvania operated under a $34 billion budget through Tuesday, although Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration had sought to clamp down on hiring, vendor contracts and discretionary spending to save cash, such as grants.

Wolf in May signed a piecemeal, no-new-taxes $25.8 billion budget approved by lawmakers. That sets up a November budget debate over how to fund many of the state’s operations for much of the year.

The budget carries full-year money for many public school programs, as well as for state-supported universities, debt service and pension obligations. But it funds much of the rest of the state’s operating budget lines, including billions for social services, only through Nov. 30, the last day of the two-year legislative session.

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