Republicans Protecting the Status Quo

September 16, 2015

To: Interested Parties
From: Jeff Sheridan, Press Secretary, Governor Tom Wolf
Date: September 16, 2015
Subject: Protecting the status quo

The Republican plan to pass a stopgap budget is yet another gimmick that further highlights the Republicans’ clear comfort with politics as usual in Harrisburg and embracing a failed status quo that is holding Pennsylvania back.

For four years, the Republican legislature passed fiscally irresponsible budgets, built on one-time revenues, fund transfers, payment delays, and other gimmicks that resulted in a multi-billion dollar budget deficit and numerous credit downgrades. Equally as bad for Pennsylvania, the Republicans made drastic cuts to schools that led to soaring property taxes while at the same time letting oil and gas companies off the hook at the expense of our children and our schools.

Harrisburg Republicans have fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo and their stopgap budget is more of the same. It is past time for a comprehensive plan that moves Pennsylvania forward.

After Governor Wolf introduced a budget in March that fixed our deficit without gimmicks, invested $1 billion in education at all levels, largely through a commonsense severance tax, and included much-needed property tax relief for middle-class families and seniors, Republicans refused to negotiate for months and then passed another status quo budget.

More Gimmicks and Games

In June, Republicans passed a budget without honest negotiations with the administration, that was built on $1.5 billion worth of gimmicks, included less than 2 percent of the funding needed to restore Republican cuts to education, and did not make oil and gas companies pay their fair share or include property tax relief for hardworking Pennsylvanians. It was a sham budget that distracted from real negotiations and progress.

Governor Wolf vetoed this irresponsible budget, and since then the governor has worked hard to compromise on issues ranging from pensions to the severance tax, but he has been met with obstruction.

In August, the Republicans wasted time and energy with unconstitutional attempts to override the governor’s veto. Prior to the vote, experts said the overrides were unconstitutional, but instead of negotiating, Republicans simply decided to waste time. It was another political stunt that stalled real negotiations.

Continuing the Status Quo

Now, instead of good faith negotiations, Republicans are intent on passing a stop gap budget that will once again hinder efforts to enact a comprehensive plan for Pennsylvania’s future. At every turn, Republicans have prevented serious negotiations, because they are unwilling to make the long-term investments and changes needed to help Pennsylvania families.

A stop gap budget is an embrace of the status quo that has failed Pennsylvania’s middle class for far too long. It doesn’t fix our deficit, fund our schools, make oil and gas companies pay their fair share, or provide property tax relief.

We Need A Real Solution

Governor Wolf understands the challenges that service providers, school districts, and others are facing. The governor is doing everything he can to mitigate the effects of the impasse and he is working hard to reach a final budget agreement.

The only situation in which Governor Wolf will sign a stopgap budget is if all sides have agreement on a final budget, and passing it will take a matter of weeks, but he will veto a stopgap as an alternative to a final budget.

It is time for Harrisburg Republicans to end their gimmicks and stop playing games. The people of Pennsylvania want more, and they deserve better.

The people of Pennsylvania deserve a fiscally balanced budget. They deserve an end to the gimmicks, cuts, and underfunding that have prevented service providers from delivering critical services to our most vulnerable. They deserve investment in education and for oil and gas companies to pay their fair share, and they deserve relief from rising property taxes caused by Republican cuts to education.

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