While members of the legislature would not have turned into pumpkins had the clock struck midnight, there would be plenty of angry state employees – not to mention a broken campaign pledge for Gov. Corbett.
The House has passed a $28.4 billion dollar budget identical to the one passed by the Senate earlier Sunday. The bill reached the Governor’s Capitol desk where it received his signature shortly after 10 pm. This was Governor Corbett’s third budget in a row signed before the midnight deadline.
The bill passed on a party-line vote of 111 Republicans in favor to 92 Democrats in opposition. Another of Corbett’s pledges kept: it included no tax increases.
But the Governor sought to downplay the fact that the budget leap-frogged progress on liquor, pensions or transportation, all three Corbett said he wanted to sign by Sunday.
“It’s always a two-year process,” he said. If I’m going to compare it to a football game, we’re in the first quarter. We have the quarters left.”
“It’s not a disappointment. How could I be disappointed, with the work these men and women did?”
He criticized what he called partisanship on the part of House Democrats who refused to vote for a transportation plan the party criticized as too skimpy on mass transit funding. Many house Republicans opposed the plan due to its increase on the wholesale gas tax.
Many observers called the budget deadline a key test of Corbett’s leadership. The three issues will wait for the legislature to return in the fall, Corbett said.
“I certainly encourage them, when they get back in the fall: let’s get it done.”
Republicans who supported it saw it as an increase to education funding.
“In basic education funding alone we are spending in this budget $120 million more than last year to the tune of $5 billion dollars, our total money spent on education grades K through 12 is $10,000,300,000. We are meeting the needs of our citizens,” said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai.
Alternatively the Democrats felt that the bill was one which underfunded education in particular.
State Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny) tweeted right after the tally, “With vote of 111-92 another Corbett #pabudget passes, perpetuating cuts for education and missing opportunities to invest in Pa.”
The Senate passed the same version of the budget earlier Sunday on a bipartisan vote of 33 to 17.
The legislation is still lacking its counterpart bills which pass along with the budget annually. These include tax and welfare code updates – including a House vote on Medicaid expansion.
The House will vote on those items in special session days Monday and Tuesday. Republican members are openly hostile to Medicaid expansion, will take up the issue.