Wolf’s Pa. budget plan is legal, but critics call it bad policy

      (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    Gov. Tom Wolf plans to let the state budget become law Monday at midnight without his signature.

    But some say Wolf’s approach is unconstitutional, largely because the budget is still $1.3 billion away from balance.

    Nathan Benefield with the right-leaning Commonwealth Foundation said passing the bill as-is would be unacceptable.

    “Everyone agrees this budget is not balanced,” Benefield said. “The administrative code, which is law, basically says that the governor, when the budget is not balanced, must bring the budget into balance. And that’s where he’s kind of ignoring the law.”

    Wolf’s spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan takes issue with that.

    Under the state Constitution, Sheridan said, the responsibility for balancing the budget falls to the General Assembly.

    Joseph DiSarro, a political science professor at Washington and Jefferson College, agreed that the governor is technically within his legal bounds.

    But he said that still doesn’t make for good policy.

    “This sort of dysfunctional relationship that exists will continue, the budgetary crisis will continue,” DiSarro said. “We have an unbalanced budget — it wouldn’t take an economist to tell you that’s not good.”

    Wolf said Sunday night he was confident the Legislature could come up with a revenue package in time for the midnight deadline.

    Benefield and DiSarro both said that looks extremely unlikely.

    Advocate: Wolf’s budget plan is legal, but bad policy

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.