Pennsylvania’s partial budget presents state lawmakers with a big question: Let funding cuts stand or restore slashed line items with the help of new revenues?
When state lawmakers sent the governor a $30.3 billion budget right before the holidays, they were leaving him with a simpler, less expensive plan than the one they had been discussing since November.
That version set aside thorny issues — major policy changes, potential tax increases — that had bogged down negotiations for months.
But for all its relative simplicity, the plan still would have required more money — either from higher taxes or other sources of additional revenue.
“We’d have had to come up with some sort of revenue package,” said GOP Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman on Tuesday. “He didn’t sign it all, so that’s not an issue at the moment.”
Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf used a line-item veto to slash nearly $7 billion in budgeted spending, saying the simpler plan wasn’t balanced. The move eliminated the immediate need for a revenue increase of some kind.
The partial veto cut funding for state prisons and schools, as well as medical assistance items and health-related research.
Replenishing the funds would require raising as much as $600 million, according to a House GOP spokesman. Republicans had been eyeing tobacco products, gambling, and liquor store changes as revenue sources. Leaders aren’t saying what they’d propose now to raise funds.
“We’ll deal with those challenges when we get to them,” said House Majority Leader Dave Reed on Tuesday.
He suggested that lawmakers might prefer not to add back any funds axed by the governor.
“Certainly some of the line-item vetoes,” said Reed. “Maybe there are cuts that we can accept.”