Pa. advocates concerned about lawmakers’ budget priorities

    Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his budget address for the 2016-17 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate at the State Capitol in Harrisburg in February. The deadline for passage of a spending plan is Thursday.(AP Photo/Chris Knight)

    Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his budget address for the 2016-17 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate at the State Capitol in Harrisburg in February. The deadline for passage of a spending plan is Thursday.(AP Photo/Chris Knight)

    After a 9-month standoff over last year’s state budget, Pennsylvania lawmakers seem committed to getting a verdict out quickly this year. But there is still little information from the Capitol on what exactly the budget contains, and advocates from across the commonwealth are concerned the speed will come at the expense of quality.

    Demonstrators with the campaign Pennsylvania’s Choice congregated in the Capitol Rotunda Monday to push for more spending in education, human services, and the environment.

    Organizer Jeff Garis, with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, says he fears lawmakers’ rush for an on-time budget means spending in those areas won’t be a priority

    “It’s a little bit like getting a really bad meal at a restaurant, and then them saying, ‘Yeah, but we got it to you quickly, didn’t we?’ The focus needs to be not just on the bare minimum requirement of getting a budget done on time, but we need to have the right kind of budget,” Garis said.

    Kathy Fisher with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger said she hopes lawmakers aren’t  focusing on their approval ratings.

    “It’s not just getting a budget done,” she said. “It’s getting the budget that Pennsylvania needs. They need to reflect and look at Pennsylvania’s future beyond the elections.”

    During last year’s budget delay, ratings plummeted, with Gov. Tom Wolf at a low of 33 percent, and the Legislature at 15. This year’s budget is due Thursday.

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