July 2, 2015

Gov. Wolf, Legislative Leaders Agree To More Talks

After vetoing the main budget bill Tuesday night, almost immediately after it was passed by Republicans, Gov. Wolf met with Senate and House leaders of both parties Wednesday and came away from the meeting optimistic, but recognized he and the GOP leadership are very far apart on even the most basic parts of the budget, liquor privatization and pension reform.
There is no deadline for further action on the budget and related bills, only the commitment to talk.
The House formally adjourned until August 25 and the Senate until September 21, but both can be called back to session if some sort of agreement is reached.
So far, Gov. Wolf has only vetoed the main budget bill-- House Bill 1192 (Adolph-R-Delaware), but Tuesday he said he would veto the entire Republican budget, presumably meaning the related Education Code-- House Bill 762 (Roe-R-Crawford)-- and Fiscal Code-- Senate Bill 655 (Browne-R-Lehigh)-- bills.
The Fiscal Code bill has been especially controversial since it funds legislators’ pet projects and includes a provision killing DEP’s regulations covering conventional oil and gas drilling and forcing DEP to start over
Wolf said he was still reviewing the liquor privatization and pension reform bills.
On Tuesday night Gov. Wolf said,”I am truly sorry that we are at this place….Republican leaders have just said no… I’m sticking to my broad goals.”
Wolf said the Republican budget would result in a $3 billion deficit.  “The math just doesn’t work-- Two plus two does not equal five in the real world.”
The Republican budget, he said--
-- Does not adequately invest in education;
-- Does not enact a natural gas severance tax; and
-- Does not give property tax relief to seniors and families.
Here are more details on each of the budget-related bills--
-- General Fund: House Bill 1192 (Adolph-R-Delaware) Senate/House Republican General Fund budget was passed by the House 112-77 and the Senate concurred in House amendments by a vote of 30 to 19.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available.
-- Fiscal Code: Senate Bill 655 (Browne-R-Lehigh) Fiscal Code amendments designed to implement the budget, fund projects wanted by legislators and insert legislative language wanted by members into law.  A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.
-- Education Code: House Bill 762 (Roe-R-Crawford) amendments to the Education Code required to implement the budget and making other changes.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available.   A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.
-- Pension Reform: Senate Bill 1 (Corman-R-Centre) Senate/House Republican pension reform bill. A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.  An Actuarial Note and summary of the bill is available online.
-- Liquor Privatization: House Bill 466 (Turzai-R-Allegheny)House Republican liquor privatization plan was amended with the Senate/House Republican liquor privatization plan. A Senate Fiscal Note and summary are available.  A House Fiscal Note and summary are available.