What’s Happening in Harrisburg? | October 2023

PHARE and Whole Home Repair Funding Along with Multiple Other Important Policy Issues Still Undecided as a Result of Continued State Budget Stalemate  

The state budget is made up of a number of separate bills – some of which are not required to be completed each fiscal year. The general appropriations bill (HB 611) which includes overall spending levels was passed into law August 3, 2023 but funds cannot be spent without an enabling Fiscal Code bill. 

Impact of the Lack of Fiscal Code Legislation: HB 1300—the current Fiscal Code legislation—has now been traded twice between House and Senate with the bill currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Rules Committee after last passing the House 121-82.  Funding for the Whole Home Repairs Program awaits a final Fiscal Code bill to be enacted.  While $50 million for Whole Home Repairs passed as part of the General Appropriations bill, the funds cannot be spent without an enabling Fiscal Code along with many other important state programs.   

Optional Tax Code Legislation: A potential PHARE Cap increase from $60 million to $100 million lies in the fate of Tax Code legislation, HB 1219, which is waiting to be considered by the Senate Committee on Finance after passing the PA House 102-101.  PHARE is only one of many proposals included in this omnibus legislation, which is considered the least likely of code bills to pass this year.  

More about PHAREPHARE is also still in play as two free standing bills—Senator Elder Vogel’s SB 532 which was approved by the Senate Urban Affairs Committee in June and former State Representative Sara Innamorato’s HB 1316 which passed the House in June.  While it is still possible that PHARE can be increased through one of these free-standing bills, it is more likely that we will ultimately succeed in increasing PHARE through a tax code provision.  

We are certain that all legislators appreciate the need to address affordable housing, but a divided General Assembly will continue to present obstacles to efficient policy making in the foreseeable future.  It is more important than ever to broaden our coalition of housing advocates and present a unified message on the need for creating new units and preserving homes.