Wolf Says He’ll Veto “Stopgap” Budget
Gov. Tom Wolf told Pennsylvania lawmakers today he will veto any attempt to pass a “stopgap” budget, even though previous attempts to pass a full-year budget have repeatedly failed.
“Let me be clear, I will veto this bill if it reaches my desk,” the governor wrote in a letter to lawmakers and released publicly by his office.
“A stopgap budget does not change the status quo that Harrisburg has accepted for too long,” his spokesman, Jeffrey Sheridan, added in a written statement. “It does not restore funding to our schools, and it does not begin to fix our deficit.”
The annual budget was due for approval in June. Since then, agencies and non-profits that rely on state funding have resorted to alternative means to keep their doors open — the Philadelphia school district, for example, has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars this school year. But there are signs that such measures are reaching the end of their effectiveness; officials say Philly schools would probably close after January 29 unless state funding is restored.
A stopgap budget would be designed to distribute existing state revenues; no tax increases would be included.
The case for a stopgap budget bill? It would restore some funding to services that desperately need it. The case against? In cases where services were thought to be underfunded — education being a prime example — the deficiencies will continue to exist.
“The Commonwealth can little afford the devastating consequences of this stopgap budget,” Wolf wrote.
For Gov. Wolf, there’s additional reason to take the stand, as well: If he surrenders and lets Pennsylvania Republicans pass the stopgap budget without getting anything in return, he’ll be in weaker position yet to try to get his priorities passed during the remaining three years of the term.
Today, incidentally, ties the previous record for the longest budget standoff in state history: On this date in 2003, Gov. Rendell and the Republican-controlled legislature finally passed a budget.
Come tomorrow, we’ll probably have a new record-holder.
See Wolf’s letter below.