Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal offers little to encourage growth in Pennsylvania. As President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) said after the governor’s address, this budget does nothing to help Pennsylvania avoid getting stuck on the sidelines when the “wave of economic growth hits from the changes in federal tax law.”
For Rep. Steve Bloom (R-Cumberland), it’s time to turn Harrisburg’s troubles over to a higher authority. Partial and late budgets, declining credit ratings, costly and error plagued state contracts, and a trail of corrupt officials are symptoms of deep structural problems, he says, and a constitutional convention is the only way to fix them. “These are issues the Legislature is either unwilling or unfit to take care of,” Bloom said.
The General Assembly returns to Harrisburg this week in search of more than $2 billion to fully fund, as required by law, the $32 billion spending plan that was sent to the governor last Friday. The available options are all unwelcome: borrowing; more gambling; increasing taxes; shifting money between funds.
Lawmakers Sue Wolf Administration Over Takeover Of Pension Watchdog Commission; Spending Authorization Scrutinized During Budget Hearings
On Tuesday, Governor Tom Wolf brazenly scolded House and Senate Republican lawmakers instead of presenting a budget proposal to an equal branch of government. The budget fiasco now consuming Harrisburg, he said, is the result of Republicans playing politics and ignoring the math. He then went on a political tirade, saying throughout the address that lawmakers were risking the welfare, and even the lives, of the elderly and children.
The problem? He’s the one whose math is wrong.
For all practical purposes, the General Fund budget signed in part by Governor Wolf in late December was the same one he vetoed in early July. At the time of the signing, he didn’t indulge the press to answer the most obvious question: why sign it now but not then? Surely, he could have saved a lot of people a lot of grief, and the taxpayers a lot of money. Instead of taking questions, he chastised the legislative leaders, calling the budget “garbage” and “an exercise in stupidity” and then left. The tragedy is that all this was completely unnecessary.
Under current Pennsylvania law, it is solely the responsibility of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to release Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits (OSTC) to the approved business applicants. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is currently withholding $150 million in credits, threatening the future of schools and programs that serve our most vulnerable student populations.