Gov. Wolf’s tax plan gets House floor vote, Democrats said move was a political stunt

Gov. Wolf’s tax plan gets House floor vote, Democrats said move was a political stunt

Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, June 1, 2015/Categories: News and Views

Due to some procedural wrangling Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf’s revenue plans was voted on by the entire House chamber Monday afternoon.

While Republicans said the vote was necessary to fund another amendment providing for the governor's spending plan, Democrats in the chamber called the maneuver a political stunt.

After the House adopted a number of amendments to House Bill 1192, the bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) that provides a vehicle for the FY 2015-2016 budget, the legislation was temporarily held over after Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny) moved to suspend the rules so a late-filed amendment could be considered that would provide for the governor’s spending plan.

While the legislation was held over, the chamber turned its attention to House Bill 283, a bill by Rep. Fred Keller (R-Union) that would exempt from sales and use tax the purchase of gun locks and safes.

The otherwise innocuous bill was made contentious when Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) offered amendment A00808, which was said to provide for the governor’s plan to raise the revenue to support his spending plan.

“We are offering what the tax package would be for that level of spending,” said Rep. Grove on his amendment in reference to Rep. Markosek’s amendment. “We need to take everything together.” 

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) called the move “a political stunt.”

“This amendment does not accurately reflect the governor’s proposal,” he said. “None of these issues take care of the structural deficit and move our Commonwealth forward.”

He said his caucus will vote against the amendment until such a time when all four caucuses can sit down and negotiate a product.

House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) saw it differently.

“This is your opportunity to have that which you have been crying for, not only for the last six months, but the last four years,” he said.

While speaking on the amendment, he quoted a number of cabinet secretaries calling the governor’s proposal “holistic” or “comprehensive.”

He said Democrats have to put up the votes to make sure the revenue exists for the governor’s spending plan.

“It’s a constitutional mandate,” he said of the need to have a balanced budget. “If we are going to be forced to vote on a spending plan that does not have revenue attached to it, we are going to make sure we have the revenue first.”

He encouraged members to be “intellectually honest” in the debate.

The amendment failed 193-0.

Upon returning to House Bill 1192, Rep. Markosek claimed his amendment will provide for “a real budget” with the revenue to come.

“This puts Pennsylvania where we need to be, there’s no gimmicks in front of us,” he said.

Majority Leader Reed called the attempted amendment “smoke and mirrors.”

“It’s time to have an intellectually honest debate…about what you are will to spend and what you are willing to pay to meet that spending,” he said.

However, the amendment was never considered as the motion to suspend the rules failed along a 115 to 78 vote.