State Budget Signed Into Law, Whole Home Repair Funding, and More | August 2023 Legislative Update

By Aaron Zappia, Senior Government Relations Manager

State Budget Signed into Law, Whole Home Repairs Funding and PHARE Cap Increase Waiting on Additional Legislation

The prolonged state budget standoff ended on August 3rd with the Senate returning to the Capitol to send HB 611 to Governor Shapiro for his immediate signature. 

While HB 611 will allow the majority of state funds to begin to flow, without an additional enabling Fiscal Code Bill, about $1.1 billion in funding for housing, public legal defense, aid for poor school districts and other programs cannot be spent—including the proposed additional $50 million for Whole Home Repairs Funding.   

An existing provision in state law requires that 10% of any undedicated surplus remaining in the General Fund at the end of the fiscal year be transferred to the state’s Rainy Day Fund on September 30th.  Unless lawmakers can approve a Fiscal Code bill directing how the sequestered $1.1 billion in funds are spent, on September 30th an additional $400 million will be deposited into the Rainy Day Fund.

The list of spending bill items for which money is “sequestered” until a Fiscal Code is passed includes:

  • Federally funded school mental health grants
  • Criminal indigent defense
  • An emergency medical services rate increase
  • Hospital and health system emergency relief
  • Level Up, the program that sends money to the most needy school districts
  • And additional $50 million for Whole-Home Repair, the program for income-qualified home improvement grants.

While a PHARE cap increase to $100 million has received wide support, its enactment is reliant upon Tax Code legislation which does not accompany every state budget.  Much like other code bills, any potential Tax Code legislation is currently being negotiated behind closed doors, and we cannot report on any progress.

The Housing Alliance is monitoring a growing list of legislation aimed at increasing affordable housing, fighting blight, and increasing renter protections

We also provide information on a bill to increase funds for local affordable housing trust funds.