Nearly 10 days late, Governor Tom Corbett signs the state budget, but not without drama.
In an unpredicted move, he vetoes a portion of the general assembly’s own spending.
This – as he calls lawmakers back to the Capitol to continue work on a pension reform plan.
Governor Corbett line item vetoed $72.2 million dollars.
He signed a majority of the budget but vetoed a portion which now holds spending in budgetary reserve.
It’s a move democrats call absurd.
Some call the governor’s vetoes and reluctance to sign the budget until now, “fashionably late,” while those with opposing views have another opinion.
“I think it’s outrageous, this has dragged on too long, the governor and his party control the executive branch, control both chambers of the general assembly, they need to get their act together,” says Senator Rob Teplitz, a democrat representing the 15th legislative district.
But it’s the lawmakers who the governor says needs to straighten out their priorities.
“The legislature needs to take action on pension reform. More than 163 school districts already have been forced to raise property taxes on Pennsylvania families to pay for skyrocketing pension costs, we can not afford to add any additional districts to this list,” says Gov. Tom Corbett.
Pension reform is something the Governor has harped on for three years.
And now he’s calling lawmakers back to the Capitol to work on it.
But, democrats say it may not be ready.
“We spent almost the entire month of June debating pensions last year and it was clear that the votes weren’t there. One year later, the votes still aren’t there, the senate passed what is passable,” says Sen. Teplitz.
The governor line item vetoed more than $72 million dollars of spending.
He says lawmakers voted to increase their own $320 million dollar budget by 2% and charge taxpayers to pay their parking.
Budget secretary Charles Zogby, says the legislature is bringing back line items a time when the state can least afford it.
“The fact that there’s something like 5 million dollars in the budget for parking costs, again when you’re talking about already having 153 million dollars in reserves, it’s almost like adding insult to injury,” says budget secretary, Charles Zogby.
Gov. Corbett says he’s reviewing options on what steps are next but hasn’t announced a date for the house to reconvene on pensions discussions.
While this largely affects the legislature and spending – Sen. Teplitz says it also hits closer to home.
$5 million dollars in funding from the Department of General Services was intended to be used toward leasing parking spaces for state employees in Harrisburg, but not anymore.
Sen. Teplitz calls it “outrageous that the governor would put the city’s financial recovery plan on the chopping block”.
He says funding is a critical piece of the puzzle that was assembled last year in order to move the city toward financial stability.
“The Governor is jeopardizing the very precarious financial state of the city and it’s unfortunate because the plan he’s jeopardizing was put together by his very own receiver,” says Sen. Teplitz.
Sen. Teplitz called on the governor to not make the capital city a casualty in the budget process.