With schools and agricultural programs threatening to close due to Pennsylvania’s budget impasse, top legislative Democrats have urged Gov. Tom Wolf to hold off on a full veto, at least for a day, after the governor had promised to reject the Republican budget handiwork sent to his desk last week.
Wolf insisted Monday that he was reviewing the $6 billion supplemental funding measure “to make sure it is as out of balance as I’ve been saying it is,” but he acknowledged that Democrats had asked him to delay any veto action.
“They said, could you hold that for a day. I said sure,” said Wolf, as he walked away from reporters after a press conference in Harrisburg.
Top Democrats said they sought the brief time-out to try to restart budget negotiations again after a chilly few months of little back-and-forth on Pennsylvania’s spending plan.
“What I’m hoping is that in this process right now that we rebuild some confidence among everybody,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Stakes are high, for the governor and lawmakers alike. Republicans who crafted the spending plan said it could end the state’s more than 8-month-long budget impasse, making whole the line items rejected by Wolf in a budget he partially approved late last year. But Democrats say the plan is one-sided, based on questionable assumptions, and liable to make the state’s structural deficit worse going into the next fiscal year beginning in July.
For Wolf, vetoing the measure could further delay state aid for school districts that say they’re on the verge of closing and agriculture extension offices that are vowing to shut down in May without approved funding. The pressure from those groups in particular has been intensifying for state lawmakers, right as some of them pivot their attention to the primary election.
Republicans could override a veto by Wolf — if they had enough support from Democrats.
Hughes shrugged when asked if any of his colleagues might side with the GOP to override a budget veto.
“People are getting very, very tired and frustrated with where things are right now,” said Hughes.
Wolf has through Sunday to sign or veto the budget.