September 18, 2015

Senate Republicans Pass Stopgap Budget They Know Will Be Vetoed By Wolf

Senate Republicans Friday passed their stopgap budget package by a party line 30 to 19 vote and moved it to the House where two of the three bills will be considered in the Appropriations Committee on Monday. 
Unfortunately, the package faces a certain veto by Gov. Wolf who said Republicans should be focused on passing a real budget.
Senate action follows 14 failed attempts by House Republicans two weeks ago to override Gov. Wolf’s veto of portions of the budget Republicans passed in June.
The stopgap budget bills include Senate Bill 1000 (Browne-R-Lehigh) General Fund Stopgap Budget Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note); Senate Bill 1001 (Browne-R-Lehigh) Fiscal Code Stopgap Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note); and amended House Bill 224 (Christiana-R -Beaver) with the Education Code Stopgap Bill (summary and Senate Fiscal Note).
The stopgap budget is about $11.2 billion of the $30.2 billion General Fund budget passed by Republicans in June and includes the so-called "agreed-to" budget provisions included in the vetoed House Bill 1192 General Fund budget bill in June.  
It also includes funding for the Senate and House and the Judiciary as well as the pass-through of federal funding to state agencies and organizations reliant on that money.
Click Here for a Senate Republican spreadsheet on the General Fund stopgap budget.
The new Fiscal Code bill has project funding and other special provisions legislators put in the original Fiscal Code bill-- Senate Bill 655-- vetoed by Gov. Wolf in June.
“I sympathize with the human service agencies at the county level and the nonprofits,” said Wolf.  “What they (Republicans) are doing is a very cynical, hypocritical attempt to make people believe that they are actually trying to make human services agencies’ lives easier. They’re not.  This stopgap is not that. This stopgap is a poke in the eye and I am treating it as such, and I am going to veto it.”
Gov. Wolf also floated two new proposals on pension reform and liquor privatization to Senate and House Republicans on Wednesday saying they were “historic proposals.”
“My (pension) plan is about 80 percent, I think, of what they (Republicans) had in Senate Bill 1,” said Wolf.  “This plan, unlike my March 3rd plan, has a 401k provision in it, it has a stacked hybrid. This plan is very different. This is not something the Democrats would do normally. We did it because we understand that we have a divided government and in good faith we put up on the table real pension reform, we put on the table real changes in the liquor system.”
“(On liquor reform) I offered a contract that could be for any period from ten to 25 years,” said Wolf. “There would have happened to be protections for workers, protections for consumers, we would have protection for the citizens of Pennsylvania so we are not just giving this away...and that we are actually getting something in return, and that we are actually going to get services like wine and beer in the supermarket.”
What was the Republican reaction said Wolf?
“I got nothing.  I got nothing on severance tax, nothing. I got nothing on education, nothing. I got nothing on property taxes relief. I got nothing on how we are actually going to balance this budget,” said Wolf.
“What we need is a budget,” said Wolf. “We actually need to have the pension and the liquor, and all the things combined into one package and it’s called a budget.”
Senate Republicans said they are negotiating in good faith, but they have core principles they are defending.  The vote on the stopgap budget, is a vote to keep state government open, said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), unlike in Congress where they are talking about shutting down the federal government.
Senate Democrats said Republicans should be at the negotiating table not the microphone and start talking about enacting a real budget.
The Senate has canceled voting session for September 21, 22 and 23 and the House is scheduled to be in voting session September 21, 24 and 25.