PA – We have a Budget!!
Dear Fellow Pennsylvanians
The following article was just reported in the Tribune Review On-line.
I’ve posted verbatim. As one who’s working to improve local government
across the state, I’m ecstatic that we have a budget. This is long
overdue. So congratulations to all.
The absence of a budget puts communities, school districts and other
state agencies at risk – the latter referring to the agencies that help
others – that can’t help themselves.
Before declaring winners and losers, stop. Not having a budget means
that people suffer. It means the differences could not be overcome. It
means that people with varying opinions can’t communicate.
The coming elections will dictate how important these differences are.
So I ask:
What is more important – political affiliation, or the good of all?
What could we have done better to get the budget signed?
Specifically, what have you done?
me repeat #3. What have you done?
criticism and sarcasm. Tonight, we have a budget. Whether or not success
can be measured, well that’s a subject for the pundits. For those in the
trenches that rely on the day-to-day funds, tomorrow is a new day.
CEO & Founder
HARRISBURG — In an about-face from his veto threat, Gov. Tom Wolf on
Wednesday let a supplemental budget bill become law without his
signature, bringing an end to a nearly nine-month impasse that
threatened to close schools.
Wolf is effectively approving a $6 billion bill that completes a $30
billion budget for 2015-16 approved by lawmakers in December. It was
due, by law, last July 1. About half of the new funding is for
Pennsylvania school districts.
“School districts will no longer be on the brink of financial disaster,”
the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials said in a
The final budget won’t contain Wolf’s signature because he says the
funding is insufficient and the “math just doesn’t work.” The end result
is no different than a signature: the bill becomes law.
The first-term Democratic governor faced a potential veto override in
the GOP-controlled legislature if he again vetoed funding that including
basic education money. Wolf vetoed the funding in December to retain
leverage in the budget dispute.
“This is a responsible budget that holds the line on spending and
taxes,” said House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Marshall. “We put responsible
budgets on his desk in June, September, December and March.”
“We’re very happy the governor let the impasse come to an end,” said
House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County.
Lawmakers in Wolf’s party would have needed to cross party lines for a
veto override. It’s not clear that would have happened, but Democratic
lawmakers had been urging Wolf to only veto line items rather than use a
full veto, said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills.
Wolf “was forced to allow the spending plan to become law because
Democratic Senators and House members were going to vote with
Republicans to override his veto of the spending plan,” said Sen. Scott
Wagner, R-York County.
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said House Democrats
were holding firm behind the governor.
Asked if he reversed himself because of a potential override, Wolf said
he did not.
“I’m doing what I think is the right thing for Pennsylvania,” he said.
Wolf became the first governor since the late Democratic Gov. Milton
Shapp in 1976 to let a bill become law without his signature.
“I can’t in good conscience sign this bill,” Wolf said at a news
Wolf said there’s not enough revenue to support the budget and it will
add to a looming $2 billion deficit.
Turzai said the opposite: By spending $750 million less than Wolf wanted
in December, “it puts us on better footing for 2016-17.”
Wolf said he was allowing separate legislation to fund state-related
universities — including the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State —
to also become law without his signature.
The governor said he is vetoing a fiscal code bill, a companion bill to
the budget. Legislative leaders said they have not had a chance to
analyze the impact of that veto of legislation that sets funding
But passage of the state’s 2015-16 budget removes an obstacle toward
dealing with the budget for the next fiscal year, Dermody said.
The key obstacle of the impasse is opposition by Republicans, especially
conservative GOP House members, to any tax increases. Wolf sought higher
spending in many areas and contended a tax increase was needed.
“Senate Republican Leaders and Gov. Wolf have very different
philosophies of how to govern,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe
Scarnati, R-Jefferson County. “While the governor looks at raising taxes
as the first course of action to close the budget deficit, we look at
reforms as a first course of action. Before asking for more of our
constituents’ hard earned dollars, we should be sure that government is
doing all that we can to operate efficiently.”
Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, minority chair of the
appropriations committee, said Republicans “chose not to compromise.”
Wolf in February proposed a $32.7 billion state budget for 2016-17 that
seeks to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on public education
and relies on a personal income tax increase to balance the budget and
close the deficit.
“What are (Republicans) going to do differently this time?” Hughes
March 24, 2016