Wolf Vetoes GOP Budget

First time Pa. governor has struck down entire budget bill in 40 years; government slowdown looms.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday night vetoed the GOP-held legislature’s budget bill — the first time a Pennsylvania governor had outright rejected a budget in more than 40 years, setting the stage for a state government slowdown.

Wolf’s veto came just hours after he was sent a $30.2 billion budget by the General Assembly. That GOP bill ” which called for no tax increases, failed to include the significant restoration of education dollars that were cut four years ago that Wolf sought or any of his other priorities in his budget that called for $34 billion in spending, once pension contributions were added,” PennLive reported.

“The citizens of Pennsylvania sent us here to do serious work and to address the problems facing this commonwealth,” Wolf said in a statement sent to reporters. “This includes enacting a budget that contains fair and adequate education funding in part by implementing a commonsense severance tax, providing property tax relief to Pennsylvania families and seniors, fixing the structural deficit, and providing a sound plan to create jobs across this commonwealth. This budget does not accomplish these essential tasks, so I cannot, in good faith, give it my approval.”

Republicans said their bill funded government without raising taxes.

“Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said lawmakers met their responsibility to pass a budget by Wednesday’s start of the fiscal year,” TribLive reports. “If the governor vetoes it, so be it,” Corman said. “I’ll be here (Wednesday) to work with the governor, and the next day through the Fourth of July. I’ll be here, whatever it takes to get it done.”

The passing of the June 30 deadline to approve a budget nominally triggers a government shutdown. The truth is less dramatic. “As long as a state agency has money in its individual budget, it can continue to operate, according to Dan Egan, spokesman for Wolf’s Office of Administration,” PennLive reports. “State agencies would pay employees and continue services using money from the previous budget year, federal money and other available cash. Egan has said that he does not know how long each government department can operate before running out of money.”

The governor and legislative leaders expect to return to the negotiating table soon, with the fate of the budget and couple of other bills — involving liquor privatization and state pensions — also in the balance.