Stop-gap budget clears Senate despite governor’s vowed veto

As expected Friday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a short-term spending plan along party lines, putting the measure in a position to be acted on by the House when that chamber returns to session next week.

Gov. Tom Wolf earlier in the week vowed to veto the measure, which would provide over $11 billion in state spending for a four month period retroactive to July 1. The bill would have also provided around $29 billion in full year federal funding for programs receiving those dollars.

Senate Appropriations Majority Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) told members on the floor that the passing of the plan was a “reasonable and necessary choice” given the currently stalled state of budget negotiations.

“We must be willing to utilize every strategy, leverage every tool we have at our disposal,” he said of the need to get funding to schools, social service organizations, and local governments depending on the state funds.

Friday, September 18, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Much ado about executive nominations?

Despite unanimous committee approval of a slate of nominations made by Gov. Tom Wolf as part of a supposed understanding with Senate Republicans earlier this year, top Democrats expressed some concern Thursday that the nominations’ committee passage was just a precursor to them being voted down on the floor Friday.

“I understand that there is some disagreement about that agreement and I think that why we are here today is that you are going to…take them to the floor and vote them down,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) told Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) during the meeting.

Sen. Corman told Sen. Costa that the nominations would be moved from committee and then receive a full vote on the Senate floor Friday.

Thursday, September 17, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Republicans still mulling Gov. Wolf’s pension, liquor reform proposals

Republicans still mulling Gov. Wolf’s pension, liquor reform proposals

Despite contentions made by Gov. Tom Wolf to the contrary, Republicans claimed Thursday that they have not rejected the pension and liquor reform proposals made by Gov. Wolf at a budget meeting yesterday.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) told reporters he has not seen the proposals in writing so that he can discuss them fully with members of his caucus.

Wednesday, in response to Republican criticism over Gov. Wolf not accepting their offer for basic education funding proposal in exchange for pension reform, the governor held a news conference where he relayed that he put on the table new proposals to provide for pension reform and to allow the state liquor system to be run by a private manager.

Thursday, September 17, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Offers rejected, more offers made, as budget negotiators continue finger-pointing during budget stalemate

Offers rejected, more offers made, as budget negotiators continue finger-pointing during budget stalemate

After four weeks of consideration, the governor Wednesday told legislative leaders in a face-to-face meeting that he would not accept their offer of an additional $300 million for basic education in exchange for the governor agreeing to a modified defined contribution-like pension reform plan..

According to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), this puts negotiations at square one.

“It’s unfortunate that it took four weeks to get around to rejecting our offer, but it did, so be it,” he said. “We’re going to have these discussions and hopefully we can continue to move closer.”

He said Republicans will continue to negotiate with Gov. Wolf to bring his spend number down to “a reasonable number” that doesn’t require broad-based tax increases while also working toward reforms with regard to pension plans and liquor sales.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Stop-gap budget opposition grows as Wolf eyes temporary budget veto

As a temporary budget spending plan made its way through the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday, opposition to the GOP-led plan grew as key Democrats went on the record in opposition to the measure.

Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday afternoon said the Republicans’ insistence on running the stop-gap measure is akin to them trying to poke him in the eye and he vowed to veto the legislation.

“I’m against the stop-gap, I mean, they’re poking me in the eye again,” he told reporters at a news conference. “That’s exactly what this is about; I guess they want to see how far they can push me. They can’t. Pennsylvanians deserve better than this.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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