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Governor Wolf Finished Negotiating, Hopes For Budget By Christmas

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Matt Rourke
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AP Images

After six months of arguing and debating, Pennsylvania’s budget impasse might finally be at an end. Governor Tom Wolf said that he believes the deal already passed through the State Senate will also be approved by the House before Christmas. The Governor outlined his hopes for the budget with Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer.

Despite the optimism from Gov. Wolf, the deal faces tough opposition in the House. House Speaker Mike Turzai believes the $38 billion dollar budget spends too much and wants to see it cut down. Wolf, meanwhile, states he will not sign a budget that is any less than the deal already worked out in the Senate.

“I’m done negotiating, and I think everyone knows that,” Wolf said.

Major points of contention for House Republicans are the proposed tax increases in the deal. Wolf described the increases as being necessary in order for the Commonwealth to afford many of the bills it has not been paying in the past few years, pointing out that PA’s credit rating has been downgraded for the past four years.

“I don’t know anybody who wants to pay more in taxes,” Wolf said. “But we need to pay our bills, we need to do the fiscally prudent thing and that’s what this budget is all about.”

He noted that both Democrats and Republicans have compromised on the deal and believes it is as good as they are likely to get it.

Should the budget not be passed, several public organizations could be affected. Many school districts have talked about not reopening after Christmas break, including Greenville area and Sharpsville.

Despite the problems caused by the six months of negotiation, Wolf believes the length conversations have been necessary and the deal is much better than those seen in the past. He criticized previous budgets for not adequately funding schools and human services, further stating that $1.5 billion of previous budgets was just “smoke and mirrors.”

While some House Republicans have called for the passage of stop-gap budgets to fund schools while the main budget is further debated, Wolf affirmed he would sign nothing less than a full budget.

“[No deal] would be a terrible thing. We need a budget. It’s not going to be any easier to pass a budget three months down the road, or four months or five months than it is right now.”  

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.