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Politics & Government

Republicans And Democrats Entrench Quickly On Budget Fight

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AP Photo/Chris Knight
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Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, left, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, Senate President Pro Tem Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, lead a news conference at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on Tuesday.

The war of rhetoric has begun in earnest in Harrisburg over the state budget. This week, the Republican controlled House and Senate approved a balanced $30 billion budget that was quickly vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday.

Wolf, who is a Democrat, said the budget is based on gimmicks and lacks fiscal integrity.

“This isn’t partisanship, this isn’t ideology. The math doesn’t work. Two plus two equals four in the real world, not five,” Wolf said.

House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) could not disagree more. He called the spending plan an “outstanding,” “responsible” and “well-crafted” budget.

“The governor is being petulant,” Turzai said. “I think this is a budget the governor should be signing.”

In vetoing the budget, Wolf noted that it does not contain any of his priorities, such as shifting local school funding away from a property tax-based system and creating a severance tax on gas from the Marcellus shale. Wolf’s budget proposal calls for an increase in the state’s sales and personal income taxes. 

Turzai is not a fan of Wolf’s priorities. 

“He can continue to talk about his massive tax increases that the people of Pennsylvania don’t want, but there is no need for a crisis or chaos,” Turzai said.

Turzai even attacked the way the governor rejected the spending plan sent to his desk. Wolf is the first governor in 40 years to reject an entire budget rather than just removing individual lines through a process called blue lining.

“I would bet that 90 percent of the lines in the budget are already agreed upon,” said Turzai. “He can always use the blue line approach, but he did not, which tells you this is about an ideological agenda.”

In explaining his decision, Wolf said, “There’s embedded in this mess a huge deficit, and it’s actually not embedded all that deeply.”

The governor has invited legislative leaders to his office this afternoon to talk about the budget but there is no sign of either side looking to budge.