Governor Vetoes Republican State Budget
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG – After weeks of a political standoff, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a budget on June 30 that Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, quickly vetoed. So as of July 1, the budget process is back to square one and the Commonwealth does not have the authority to pay its bills.
Although the Republicans control both houses of the General Assembly, they don’t have the votes necessary to override the veto. Leadership from both houses met with the Governor and his staff for half an hour on Wednesday to try to begin to come up with a compromise. So far, there are signs that this process will be quick or easy.
Major budget issues for the Governor are an increase in state spending for education and a reduction in local property taxes subsidized by the state. These increases in spending are to be paid with new revenue generated by a severance tax on Marcellus shale gas and increases in the personal income and sales taxes.
The Republicans, on the other hand, presented a budget with no tax increases and a modest increase in education spending. Their budget is also balanced with several one-time sources of revenue such as the sale of the state store system.
Along with the budget, the General Assembly sent the Governor two other bills that will no doubt be a part of any budget talks, one to privatize parts of the state store system and another to reform the state pension system. These two issues will probably further complicate the budget negotiations.
State workers will be paid through the budget impasse due to a Supreme Court decision in 2009 that required state workers to be paid during a budget deadlock. Before then, state workers would not be paid after June 30 until after a budget passed. Unpaid state workers were a major source of pressure for legislators to get a budget done. Without that incentive, there is no telling how long this current impasse will continue.
PLNA members will probably not feel any impact from the budget impasse unless they have state contracts for landscape work or are doing work for non-profits relying on state grants and other state funding. State contractors cannot be paid until the budget passes, is signed by the Governor and the state regains its spending authority.