Governor Wolf vetoes state liquor store privatization, public school funding bills
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Governor Tom Wolf today vetoed House Bill 466, House Bill 762, and Senate Bill 655. In veto messages to the General Assembly, Governor Wolf explained to why he vetoed these bills, bills which he says fail to adequately and responsibly address the pressing issues facing Pennsylvanians.
Regarding House Bill 466: “This legislation falls short of a responsible means to reform our state liquor system and to maximize revenues to benefit our citizen,” Governor Wolf said. “It makes bad business sense for the Commonwealth and consumers to sell off an asset, especially before maximizing its value. During consideration of this legislation, it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers. In the most recent case of another state that pursued the outright privatization of liquor sales, consumers saw higher prices and less selection.”
“Modernization of our state liquor system would provide additional revenues to the Commonwealth and save important, family-sustaining jobs. We can support and bolster consumer convenience without selling an asset and risking higher prices and less selection for consumers. I am open to options for expanding the availability of wine and beer in more locations, including supermarkets. I have also put other compromises on the table, including variable pricing, direct shipment of wine and expanding state store hours.”
On House Bill 762, the School Code: “This bill contains many laudable items which I support,” including the Basic Education Funding Commission formula, Governor Wolf said. “Unfortunately, this bill fails to restore the harmful education cuts imposed on each school district over the last four years, nor does it provide adequate funding to ensure Pennsylvanians have schools that teach our children. This bill only distributes an additional $8 million into K-12 education, which is not adequate classroom support for the children of this Commonwealth. Simply stated, it fails to meet our constitutionally required obligation of providing a thorough and efficient system of education.”
Senate Bill 655, the Fiscal Code, “fails to adequately pay our bills,” Governor Wolf said. “It relies on over $1.5 billion in one-time revenues, payment delays into the next fiscal year, and fund transfers. It is not a balanced budget and it will lead to a $3 billion deficit and credit downgrades for the Commonwealth.”
“This bill creates an additional $10 million tax credit designed to benefit private foundations, while the General Appropriations bill only provides an additional $8 million in basic and special education funding for our public schools, which is clearly not adequate funding to ensure Pennsylvanians have schools that teach our students.”
The Governor did sign into law a variety of additional appropriation legislation into law, including funds that support public safety, small businesses and consumer affairs.
• Senate Bill 812 makes appropriations from the Professional Licensure Augmentation Account and from restricted revenue accounts to be used by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs during 2015-16 in support of the professional licensing boards.
• Senate Bill 813 makes an appropriation from the Workmen’s Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Labor and Industry for the expenses of administering the Workers Compensation Act and the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act for 2015-16
• Senate Bill 814 makes an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund to the Office of Small Business Advocate in the Department of Community and Economic Development for 2015-16.
• Senate Bill 815 makes an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund to the Office of Consumer Advocate in the Office of the Attorney General for 2015-16.
• Senate Bill 816 makes an appropriation from the Public School Employees’ Retirement Fund for the expenses of the Public School Employees’ Retirement Board for 2015-16.
• Senate Bill 817 makes an appropriation from the State Employees’ Retirement Fund to the State Employees’ Retirement Board for 2015-16.
• Senate Bill 818 makes appropriations from the Philadelphia Taxicab and Limousine Regulatory Fund and the Philadelphia Taxicab Medallion Fund to the Philadelphia Parking Authority for fiscal year 2015-16.
• Senate Bill 819 makes appropriations from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund and federal augmentation funds to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for 2015-16.
• Senate Bill 820 makes appropriations from restricted revenue accounts within the State Gaming Fund and from the State Gaming Fund to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the Department of Revenue, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Attorney General for 2015-16.
In response to Governor Wolf’s veto of HB 466, also known as the liquor privatization bill, PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement.
“Governor Tom Wolf has chosen to say no to the historic and much-needed reform of our antiquated liquor system,” Gleason said. “The liquor privatization bill that Governor Tom Wolf has chosen to veto would bring convenience to consumers and finally get Pennsylvania out of the liquor business.
“Tom Wolf’s decision to veto this bill, which is widely supported by the people of Pennsylvania, continues to just how much Governor Wolf is willing to give to special interests. While the people of Pennsylvania have been calling for this legislation, Governor Wolf and the special interests who funded his campaign are standing in the way of liquor choice for the people of Pennsylvania.”