New Year, same budget squabble in Pennsylvania

     Gov. Tom Wolf applauds during inaugural ceremonies Monday for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. (Emma Lee/NewsWorks)

    Gov. Tom Wolf applauds during inaugural ceremonies Monday for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. (Emma Lee/NewsWorks)

    Gov. Tom Wolf looked determined to start the New Year off on the right foot.

    His first Monday of 2016 was packed with public events – the inauguration of Philadelphia’s new mayor, followed by two business tours nearby.

    But Wolf couldn’t outrun Pennsylvania’s unfinished business of yesteryear.

    After touring a cold storage and processing facility in Chester County, he was peppered with questions about the state budget.

    “Yeah, we need one,” Wolf said in response. “We still need one.”

    The Democrat partially vetoed a spending plan last week, so the state’s budget impasse isn’t over. Wolf said he’s holding out for more education funding. He called the plan sent to him by the Republican-controlled Legislature before Christmas a “sham.”

    “It didn’t invest in the things like education that we need to invest in,” Wolf said Monday. “That’s a bad habit.”

    But, as anyone who has broken their New Year’s resolutions can tell you, merely identifying bad habits isn’t enough to change future behavior.

    Legislative leaders say they don’t have enough votes to pass a plan that includes the kind of education funding increases the governor wants. Neither chamber has jumped to oblige the governor’s requests that they reconvene in Harrisburg to finalize a full year’s budget.

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