Wolf vs. Corman and a mid-week budget update

A day following a sit-down meeting with Gov. Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) where Sen. Corman told reporters that Republicans will not support broad-based tax increases proposed by the governor, Gov. Wolf’s press secretary called the senator’s viewpoints one of political expediency.

"The refusal by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Republican leaders to accept basic math and acknowledge Pennsylvania’s massive structural budget deficit is the sole obstacle preventing budget talks from moving forward," Jeff Sheridan said in an email to interested parties.

"Strangely, today’s Sen. Corman doesn’t agree with the Sen. Corman of the past. Sen. Corman’s leadership title seems to have shifted his ideals on budgeting and financial planning."

The email uses quotes from media reports showing Sen. Corman in the past has said some tax increases would be necessary to fill budget needs and would’ve been supported by Senate Republicans in the last budget cycle.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
“Shuttle diplomacy” being used to find a budget solution

“Shuttle diplomacy” being used to find a budget solution

A week to the day after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-crafted FY 2015-2016 spending plan, the use of “shuttle diplomacy” has been used as the key force to move budget negotiations further as another face-to-face meeting between the governor and Republican leadership failed to make any significant progress toward a budget agreement.

“There’s both a formal and an informal process,” said House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna (D-Centre).

“The formal process you receive notice of meetings that have been scheduled…a lot of the formal process involves high-level staff looking at the various proposals, looking at what we can agree to and what we do disagree about, and hopefully that will refine things where we can focus on what we need to resolve to make this deal work.”

However, he said the informal process can sometimes be more productive in resolving big ticket items.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Monday budget negotiation and pension reform bill update

It was quiet most of the day in the Capitol building Monday as leadership staff met with high-ranking Wolf administration officials to discuss the budget.

By observation, and according to Capitol sources, legislative leaders were trickling into Harrisburg Monday afternoon as they prepare to begin budget renegotiations in earnest.

Monday, July 6, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
GOP leaders’ letter to Wolf: Budget veto “puts politics over governing”

GOP leaders’ letter to Wolf: Budget veto “puts politics over governing”

A day after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-crafted spending plan last week, budget negotiators surfaced from a regrouping meeting with new resolve to find compromise. However, less than a week later, GOP leaders sent a letter to the governor with a stark tone about their true feelings of the governor’s full veto of the budget.

“Your indiscriminate veto of House Bill 1192, the Fiscal Year 2015-16 General Appropriations Bill, puts politics above governing," the letter begins. "The veto unnecessarily withholds billions of dollars in undisputed state and federal funds, which will prevent social service organizations from accessing their state funds, and prevent school districts from accessing federal fund appropriations.”

The leaders in their letter point out that 274 of the 400 line items in the budget sent to the governor last week meet or exceed the appropriations laid out by the governor in his March 3rd budget address.

"Clearly, there was no reason to hold those who would receive these funds captive during this unnecessary budget standoff," they said.

Monday, July 6, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Gov. Wolf vetoes liquor privatization, budget implementation bills

Gov. Wolf vetoes liquor privatization, budget implementation bills

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday afternoon his veto of a liquor privatization bill passed by the General Assembly as well as two budget implementation bills in the form of the School Code and Fiscal Code.

In vetoing House Bill 466, liquor privatization legislation sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), Gov. Wolf said the legislation is irresponsible.

“This legislation falls short of a responsible means to reform our state liquor system and to maximize revenues to benefit our citizen,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “It makes bad business sense for the Commonwealth and consumers to sell off an asset, especially before maximizing its value. During consideration of this legislation, it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers.”

House Bill 466 is the first liquor privatization bill sent to a governor and would have phased out the current state retail liquor market according to a formula.

Thursday, July 2, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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