July 22, 2017

House Republicans: It’s Up To The Senate, Wolf To Lead On Budget, Then Went Home

House Republicans failed to get an agreement on a revenue package to fill the $2.2 billion deficit and support the $31.996 billion budget passed June 30, according to House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), and then decided to go home.
Turzai said it is now time for the Senate and Gov. Wolf to lead on the budget and to pass their tax and revenue proposals and send them to the House.
He said House Republicans already passed a responsible budget in April and that is the preferred position of his Caucus.  
Turzai said the House has already passed revenue proposals in the form of expanded gaming with video gaming terminals and five different liquor privatization bills that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars, but the Senate hasn’t dealt with them.
Turzai called on Gov. Wolf to put his ideas on the table to raise revenue.  He said several times Wolf has been absent from the budget discussions, “I haven’t even seen the Governor in the halls.”  “Where is the Governor, do you know where he is?”
Turzai said there was resistance in his Republican Caucus to the Senate’s idea of borrowing $1.5 billion to fill the budget gap and added it is the Senate that wants to pass a tax increase.  He challenged the Senate to do it and send it over to the House.
Turzai said his Caucus does not believe casinos should have a monopoly on gaming and that they do not have 102 Republican votes for expanded gaming, but that video gaming terminals increase those numbers a little.
He also said Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), Majority Appropriations Committee Chair, is planning to introduce a casino impact fee or tax bill in the near future.
He blamed the Senate for putting special fund transfers on the negotiating table, but there would have to be a lot more work to get agreement on which funds would be diverted to the General Fund.
(Summary from remarks broadcast via PLS Reporter and the Periscope app.)
The House is now on a 6-hour call to return to Harrisburg.  Sunday session is canceled. The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting scheduled for Sunday is canceled.
Senate Reaction
PLS Reporter quoted Drew Crompton, Senate Republican Chief Of Staff, as saying, “I think we are going back to some of the points and views and policies that we’ve been talking about for several weeks now. We do not think it is responsible to leave things the way they are now, so we’ll address them next week and hopefully whoever will like to participate with us, they will.”
Capitolwire.com quoted Drew Crompton as saying, “I watched the House Republicans this week – I’m not sure they’re looking for consensus… we will work with whoever wants to work with us. We think it’s a mutual obligation to fund the 2017-18 appropriations bill, and we’ll share in that obligation. We would rather not do it alone, but we can only play with people who want to play with us.”