Legislative sources say that the next move to break Governor Wolf’s budget shutdown, now in its 16 week, will be to give the governor a piece of his original state spending plan: a higher sales tax in exchange for a reduction in local property taxes, while remaining firm on other key items. The plan amounts to a dollar-for-dollar sales tax and property tax exchange. It would come with one major provision; that future local tax increases would have to be approved through referendum.
This week, House Republicans needed just a little Democratic help to fund an array of social services, stranded by the now eight week impasse over a state spending plan. They didn’t get it.
The war of words over the budget impasse continues and, for his part, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) must be getting tired of repeating the obvious, or what should be the obvious.
At a Pennsylvania Press Club briefing on Monday, Speaker Turzai clearly felt it necessary to yet again say that the Governor has no votes for the tax increases he continues to demand. That fact should have been more than obvious to the Wolf Administration two months ago when the House flattened the Governor’s spending and tax plan under a 0-193 vote.
Two weeks after the June 30 budget deadline, Governor Tom Wolf is on the road pitching the budget plan he first unveiled in early March. He’s standing by his plan despite a series of embarrassing setbacks: zero votes for his budget in the House when it was brought to the floor in early June; an independent fiscal analysis that shows everyone will pay higher taxes under his budget, despite his claims to the contrary; and now a study by a bipartisan association of budget officials that shows the Wolf plan taxes more and spends more than any budget plan in the nation.
To protect the special interests of public employee unions, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a $30 billion 2015-2016 General Fund budget approved this week by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The responsible, Republican budget would have saved billions by reforming our run-away public pension systems and would have raised nearly $300 million by ending the byzantine state liquor monopoly.
Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) rightly says this budget season presents a perfect opportunity for the General Assembly to reduce public debt. Stephens is spurred by more than just a commitment to fiscal discipline; “Debt service is crowding out our ability to fund other vital services,” he says.
For a moment in time, Pennsylvania was becoming more economically competitive. For three straight years, our commonwealth climbed over other states in a comparison of competitive vigor called Rich States, Poor States by the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. (View summary HERE!) Then during 2014, we dropped hard – only two other states lost as much ground.
Concluding that Governor Tom Wolf’s budget plan is “not based in reality,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said the General Assembly is “going to have to start from scratch” in developing a General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.
House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) questioned how many votes the governor could muster for his plan. The Speaker’s answer: none in the Republican caucus and possibly not even a majority in the other.
PMA's David Taylor provides an initial reaction to Governor Wolf's FY 2015-16 budget proposal.
Governor Tom Corbett confronted the state’s most powerful special interest when he asked lawmakers to send him, as part of the budget, bills reforming public pensions and privatizing liquor sales. The public sector unions have prevented both of these reforms from reaching his desk. As a result, the Governor announced today that he will blue-line-veto $65 million in General Assembly spending and an additional $7.2 million in legislative-designated spending. The remainder of budget has been signed, enacted, and will be implemented immediately.