Democrats are blasting Gov. Tom Corbett for deciding against a Medicaid expansion. But Pennsylvania’s GOP lawmakers seem to be reserving judgment on many of his proposals.
Corbett cannot count on Republican votes alone if he wants to see passage of his proposals for transportation funding, pension reform, and liquor privatization, says state Rep. Bill Adolph, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“He really challenged the Legislature … on three major, major issues,” says Adolph, R-Delaware.
GOP leaders said they would need to take a closer look at Corbett’s proposals to modify pension benefits and lower the state’s payments on its pension debt.
Some say they’re waiting for the state Department of Transportation secretary to make the case that the governor’s plan for gas taxes will generate enough revenue to fund transportation infrastructure projects.
As far as state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, is concerned, the entire $28.4 billion plan Corbett proposed Tuesday is inadequate.
“All of his proposals either are so timid that they don’t move us forward enough, or actually take us backward,” Leach said.
Democrats also contend Corbett’s proposed multimillion-dollar increases in education funding won’t make school districts whole.
Their biggest objection, however, was to the governor’s qualified announcement that he won’t agree to the Medicaid expansion authorized under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, calls the decision disturbing, since it means turning down federal funding.
“Not only would it provide health insurance for half a million working families and working individuals, it’s an economic generator for this commonwealth we’ve not seen before,” Costa said.
GOP lawmakers were circumspect about some of the other big-ticket items Corbett’s outlined in his budget address.
Top Senate Republicans applaud the governor for announcing a plan to fund transportation infrastructure, but express reservations about potential pension changes, which would set off a legal challenge from state employee unions.
The House GOP says a natural starting point will be Corbett’s proposal to privatize the state liquor stores, since their chamber is already familiar with the issue.
And Republicans are showing signs of relief the governor’s spending plan is asking for any increases, after two very austere years.