Wolf Expresses Confidence In Stalled Budget; House Position Hazy
A month past the due date, negotiations on how to fund Pennsylvania's $32 billion spending plan are effectively stalled.
With the state House in indefinite recess as lawmakers consider how to respond to a revenue proposal from the Senate, Governor Tom Wolf is seeking to allay fears about what an unbalanced budget means for the commonwealth.
He noted, the state continues to take in revenue and do business, even as financial analysts--like the state treasurer--warn that the commonwealth faces cash shortfalls and a credit downgrade if it doesn't get its fiscal act together.
Wolf said he supports the Senate's budget proposal, which includes a severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers--one of the governor's longtime priorities.
And when it comes to getting the House on board, he's optimistic.
"I believe that the House will support the Marcellus Shale taxes," he said. "Most of the actors here have bought in to the bill that came out of the Senate. Now it's a matter for the House--basically Republican leadership--to sign on to that. We just need to get this done."
But that shale tax revenue--projected to be around $100 million, per the Senate proposal--is only a fraction of the money needed to fill a $2 billion budget gap.
House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin said the chamber has no intention of giving in to the governor and Senate.
"I think members are really just looking at an entire gamut of things," he said.
Miskin also criticized Wolf--as House Republicans have done throughout the budget process--for not taking a more active role in leading negotiations.
He said the House has no immediate plans to return to session.