February 10, 2016

House Republicans Pass Supplemental Funding Bills, Dems: No Money To Fund Them

House Republicans Wednesday passed legislation to provide supplemental funding for Pennsylvania’s state prisons, child advocacy centers and hospital burn centers to make up funding Gov. Wolf vetoed in December.  
“We are working to restore funding cuts resulting from some of Gov. Tom Wolf’s line-item vetoes of the 2015-16 budget he signed in December,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana). “The governor’s intent is to use the funding as leverage in future budget negotiations, but we simply refuse to allow him to hold these people and entities hostage.”
The bills include--
-- House Bill 1801 (Irvin-R-Centre) Dept. of Corrections funding-- $939 million (House Fiscal Note);
-- House Bill 1802 (Toepel-R-Montgomery) Child advocacy centers funding-- $1 million (House Fiscal Note); and
-- House Bill 1803 (Mackenzie-R- Berks) Dept. of Human Services funding-- $3.78 million (House Fiscal Note).
The bills now go to the Senate for action. House Republicans introduced a slew of other supplemental funding bills late Wednesday covering other programs and agencies.
House Democrats charged Republicans with not having the revenues in place to fund these programs.
Earlier in the process of considering these bills this week, Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, had amendments prepared to put the “agreed-to” budget framework, but he withdrew the amendments and would not allow others to bring them to a Floor vote.
The Senate did not take action on its supplemental funding bill this week-- Senate Bill 1106 (Browne-R-Lehigh).
Gov. Wolf has said the supplemental bills were not necessary because he could fund programs under the “protection of health, safety and welfare” authority.  Of course, Wolf caused the shortfalls with his own line-item vetoes in December.
The Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees held a hearing Monday featuring representatives of the State Treasurer trying to better understanding which programs were being funded under the “protection of health, safety and welfare” authority.