A Pennsylvania House Republican with a reputation for opposing party leaders is trying to loosen up the deadlock that’s gripped budget negotiations for weeks.
Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, is offering his own attempt at a compromise state spending plan. It includes a new tax on natural gas drillers and a higher personal income tax – more than the GOP supported in new spending, but less than Gov. Tom Wolf proposed.
“I might get some criticism … for standing up here on my own as a rank-and-file member to propose something like this,” said DiGirolamo at a Capitol press conference Thursday. He said he had not conferred with House GOP leaders before unveiling his proposal.
“We’ve got to get a budget done,” DiGirolamo said. “I think there (are) groups and organizations and people out there that are really going to start to feel some pain and suffer in the next few weeks if we don’t start to sit down and talk and find a compromise on this budget.”
“Obviously,” said House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin, “Rep. DiGirolamo is offering a plan because our members have no stomach for the governor’s budget proposal.”
Other representatives in the Republican caucus, however, have been leaving budget negotiations to legislative leaders. When asked if they would take a look at DiGirolamo’s suggested compromise, Miskin said, “We’re always interested in the ideas of our members.”
Democrats have some qualms with the DiGirolamo plan.
“We need more school funding than he proposed in order to restore the cuts of the last four years, and we still want to achieve significant property tax relief as part of this budget,” said Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democrats. “Nevertheless, we applaud the chairman for going beyond his party’s talking points and putting serious thought into meeting Pennsylvania’s real budget needs.”