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Politics & Government

Gov. Wolf Vetoes Part Of Budget, OKs School Cash

Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says he is rejecting parts of a $30.3 billion state budget plan that's already a record six months overdue, but he's freeing up over $23 billion in emergency funding.

At a news conference at the Capitol in Harrisburg on Tuesday, the Democrat said the Republican-backed proposal falls short and lawmakers "left town before they finished their job."

In lieu of full budget, Wolf pledged to release $23.3 billion dollars — $7 billion less than legislators approved. The governor says it will provide enough in emergency funds to keep schools open. They had been cut off from state aid since July and some threatened to close after the holiday break.

Wolf blasted lawmakers for leaving the Capitol before the holidays and says he still wants them to pass the budget framework agreement he made with GOP leaders back in November.

“We’re now at a point where I don’t want to hold the children of Pennsylvania hostage for the inability of folks here in Harrisburg to get the job done,” Wolf said. “We have a compromise. The solution is to get that compromise budget passed.”

Senate Republican Leader Jake Corman said he was disappointed with Wolf’s actions, but is prepared to move forward.

He said democrats and republicans in the House and Senate have not all been on the same page with the Wolf administration.

"This is really a five party discussion,” Corman says. “I think the problem with the framework was that we didn't have all five parties on board. We need to have all five parties moving in the same direction."

The bill resembles a GOP budget plan Wolf vetoed on June 30. It contains about $500 million less than a deal Wolf had negotiated with Republican leaders. Both proposals required unspecified tax increases.

Republican leaders scaled down that plan last week after a bill to reduce state pension costs stalled in the GOP-controlled House.

Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason issued a statement saying Wolf finally admitted his “multi-billion dollar mistake.”

“When Tom Wolf issued a complete veto of the Republicans’ on-time budget last June, he needlessly plunged our school districts and non-profits into a six-month crisis.”

Although money will be flowing again to schools and nonprofits, the bill does not reimburse them for the millions of dollars in debt they racked up borrowing to stay afloat during the impasse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.