The deadline to pass the state budget has come and gone…
Governor Tom Corbett left his Capitol office early Tuesday morning without signing the plan that both the house and senate passed late Monday night.
This marks the first time since Gov. Corbett took office that the budget has not passed on time, which is something he has said in the past is very important.
He left without signing a budget that he says doesn’t reform pensions.
Pension reform is an issue that Gov. Corbett calls a priority – one if not the only reason his stamp of approval is not on the state budget.
Gov. Corbett says he won’t approve any plans to use taxes to close the $1.4 billion dollar budget gap without first restraining the high cost of public employee pensions and privatizing the sale of wine and spirits.
Earlier Monday evening, the senate barely passed its version of the bill with a 26 to 24 vote.
“A budget that we believe is held together on shoestrings and rubber bands and bubble gum, it’s unfortunate the people of Pennsylvania are going to have a budget that’s not sustainable,” says Senator Jay Costa, a democrat representing the 43rd district.
The $29.1 billion dollar budget included a slight increase in funding for K-12 education as well as higher education and public safety, which is something Democratic leader Jay Costa says, isn’t enough.
“There’s funding that’s there for school districts but not nearly enough to offset the nearly 3 billion dollar cumulative cuts in education that have taken place to the Corbett years,” says Sen. Costa.
While democrats had a different approach, republican house members say they were pleased to see the senate’s version.
“I’m glad that we were able to put a little more money into public education and related areas, special education, funding for kids with intellectual disabilities who are aging out of the system, they need to have those services continued, Pre-k education there’s a little more funding for that,” says Rep. Glen Grel, a republican representing the 87th district.
Many lawmakers took to Twitter late Monday night to express their displeasure with the fact that Gov. Corbett did not sign the budget.
Rep. Stephen Bloom wrote, “I leave PA Capitol for 35 minutes to drive home and political chaos breaks loose. Next time I stay until the budget is signed!”
Gov. Corbett released a statement saying, “The budget I received tonight makes significant investments in our common priorities of education, jobs, and human services. It does not address all the difficult choices that still need to be made. It leaves pensions, one of the largest expenses to the commonwealth and our school districts, on the table, leaving the weight on Pennsylvania taxpayers and perpetuating the tug of war over state funding every single year.”
The big question on minds is when is Gov. Corbett going to sign the budget and if not how is this going to impact public employees and state run services?
Gov. Corbett says, “I will continue to work with the legislature toward meaningful pension reform. I’m withholding signing the budget passed by the General Assembly while I deliberate its impact on the people of Pennsylvania.”
The house and senate say it has done its part, and now it’s up to Gov. Corbett.