Calling the budget he received got from Pennsylvania’s Legislature last week last “ridiculous” and “garbage,” Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday he would use his line-item veto power to authorize portions of a spending plan passed by the Republican-controlled legislature before Christmas.
Wolf will release $23.3 billion dollars — that’s $7 billion less than legislators approved.
The governor said it will provide enough in emergency funds to keep schools open. They had been cut off from state aid since July, and some threatened to close after the holiday break.
Wolf blasted lawmakers for leaving the Capitol before the holidays, and he said he still wants them to pass the budget framework agreement he made with GOP leaders back in November.
“We’re now at a point where I don’t want to hold the children of Pennsylvania hostage for the inability of folks here in Harrisburg to get the job done,” he said. “We have a compromise. The solution is to get that compromise budget passed.”
Senate Republican Leader Jake Corman said he was disappointed with Wolf’s actions, but is prepared to move forward.
Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate have not all been on the same page with the Wolf administration, he said.
“This is really a five-party discussion,” Corman said. “I think the problem with the framework was that we didn’t have all five parties on board. We need to have all five parties moving in the same direction.”
House Speaker Mike Turzai, R- Allegheny, and Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said Wolf could have done this months ago.
“The reality is that, over the last month, the original budget ‘framework’ has fallen apart for a host of reasons – the most significant being the lack of agreement on how to fund it,” they said in a joint statement. “Certainly, there is a recognition that new revenues will be needed to help fund our state’s priorities, but that recognition must also be respectful of the taxpayers.”
Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason also issued a statement saying Wolf finally admitted his “multibillion-dollar mistake.”
“When Tom Wolf issued a complete veto of the Republicans’ on-time budget last June, he needlessly plunged our school districts and non-profits into a six-month crisis,” Gleason said.
Although money will be flowing again to schools and nonprofits, the bill does not reimburse them for the millions of dollars in debt they have racked up borrowing to stay afloat during the impasse.