HARRISBURG, Pa. - The battle over the state budget is brewing, with Gov. Tom Wolf (D) threatening to veto the latest proposal from Republicans in the state house.
State lawmakers are working on a way to close a $1.2 billion budget deficit, but judging by the rhetoric on both sides, there's still a long way to go.
“If this budget gets to me in the form that we have right now, in the form that has all these games and continues with the games of the past, and does nothing more than the status quo, I will veto it,” Wolf said.
Wolf says the plan pushed by Republicans defers much of the current deficit to next year's budget. Republican leaders are calling for a 3.6 percent increase in spending without any tax increases.
“I think it's a good fiscally responsible deal, again no tax increases so we won't see any tax increases at all to fund increased spending under the rate of inflation for the commonwealth, so I think it's very exciting news all around,” Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) said.
Republicans say they are pushing for pension and liquor reforms in addition to the plan that gives modest increases to education and other state services.
“We can't expect that for a state that has trouble fiscally to raise costs and expect us to grow, and come back here to have another hole to fill,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) said.
Wolf says his priorities are to provide property tax relief, a severance tax on natural gas drillers, and considerably more funding for schools.
“There's a starting point for a conversation in terms of what Pennsylvanians need, and I acknowledge there are things that we have to do in terms of making sure that we live within our means,” he said. “I want them to make the same acknowledgement.”
The work will likely continue on a deal into the weekend to have a budget in place by a Tuesday deadline.