State Officials Estimate Major Financial Impact to Pa. Budget Caused By Pandemic
The economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will wreak havoc on the Pennsylvania budget, according to state Sen. Pat Browne, who is the Republican chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Earlier this week, Sen. Browne said the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus crisis will propel Pennsylvania into a deficit that could be in the billions, impacting funding for vital programs like education, human services and other public safety programs . By June 30, which marks the end of the current fiscal year and usually signifies the deadline for the state to pass a new budget, analysts predict the budget deficit could reach $4 billion.

Data released this week provided some grim support for the estimated deficit, as March's revenue collection fell more than 6 percent, or nearly $300 million less than expected. Also, the state has seen more than one million unemployment compensation claims over the last two and a half weeks , a record-high number of requests for immediate financial aid during the pandemic-spurred shutdown.

Legislative leaders and the governor's office are expected to begin discussions on the budget implications facing the state as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak soon, and according to Sen.Browne, will likely be on a daily basis to deal with the financial challenges ahead.

There is some relief on its way to Pennsylvania, as the federal stimulus package recently passed by Congress includes money for local and state governments. Pennsylvania is set to receive roughly $7.5 billion in federal stimulus money, with $5 million allocated for general state relief. Sen. Browne said talks will focus on how that money can be used to help balance the state budget.

In early February, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $36.1 billion budget for the upcoming year, a spending increase of 4.2 percent.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

According to the Department of Health , as of this morning the Commonwealth has just under 1,600 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 10,017. In addition, 136 Pennsylvanians have died directly from complications from the virus. To date, there have been more than 60,000 negative cases across the state.

As was reported in yesterday's edition of Capitol Buzz , Gov. Tom Wolf asked all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . The state Department of Health has provided guidance on how individuals can create homemade masks for their use in order to preserve high quality personal protection equipment for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control also announced recommendations for people to wear face masks in public .

In addition, for those Pennsylvanians who are facing a mental health crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health has provided the following information:
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As Gov. Wolf, CDC recommends the use of masks in public, what does that mean for employers? With the new guidance provided at the state and federal level for individuals to wear masks when in public, the McNees Labor and Employment Group discusses what this new recommendation means for employers and employees , especially with new OSHA guidelines being released on Friday.

What does Pa.'s status in a major disaster declaration mean for state, local governments? Earlier this week, President Donald Trump accepted Gov. Tom's Wolf request to declare Pennsylvania as a major disaster area as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The McNees Public Finance and Government Sector Practice Group outlines how this status could impact state, county and local governments all across the Commonwealth.

PA DEP allowing for temporary suspensions of permitting, certain regulations. To aid companies in addressing the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced a process for companies to request temporary suspensions of environmental permitting and regulatory compliance obligations. McNees environmental attorneys discuss the details of the PA DEP guidance.

Opioid crisis expands during COVID-19 outbreak. Pennsylvania has taken a hard stance in the fight against opioid abuse over the last several years. But with the novel coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc throughout the country, officials are worried that recovery from opioid abuse is now at risk .
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) .

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

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