Seven months later, optimism on Pennsylvania budget

    Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed, an advocate for redistricting reform, is disappointed by the onslaught of new amendments. (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed, an advocate for redistricting reform, is disappointed by the onslaught of new amendments. (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvanians may be fed up with the state budget impasse, but the people sitting at the negotiating table aren’t betraying any such disgust.

    Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is set to give his budget proposal next week for the upcoming fiscal year — even as the current year’s spending is the subject of tense talks with the GOP-led Legislature.

    But Wolf said he feels good about progress made toward a bipartisan budget deal last year, even though the agreement collapsed just before Christmas.

    “I’m really proud of that. Yes, I’m a little frustrated that it didn’t reach my desk, but that frustration, that sense of frustration, is more than offset by a sense of achievement and accomplishment with the good things we accomplished in promoting that compromise,” he said.

    Dave Reed, the state House’s GOP leader, echoed Wolf’s sanguine outlook. The major issues at stake with budget talks have bedeviled lawmakers for decades, he reasoned.

    “Look, I think there’s a level of frustration because a lot of folks, including myself, would like to bring closure to a lot of these items,” said Reed. “But I also recognize these are big items.”

    Reed said he sees optimism as a prerequisite for political leaders, even when things fall apart.

    “When any elected official loses that hope, loses that vision, loses that dream, they should walk away,” Reed said. “Maybe the governor and I share that thought process.”

    Last week, a Franklin & Marshall College poll found 67 percent of respondents thought the state was headed in the wrong direction; 38 percent of those surveyed blamed government and politicians.

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