PA-BGT: How Do You Solve a Five-Sided Equation?

pa-state-capitol-b175d9a07740ecf3Last week, lawmakers in Harrisburg were optimistic of ending the budget impasse during special meetings and voting sessions scheduled for the weekend. With Monday now upon us, however, all signals from the capital show the optimism has evaporated.

During that short period, the State Senate showed its intent to push forward with a total spending plan of $30.8 billion accompanied by a $1.2 billion tax increase to pay for “historic” increases in education funding, Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press report.

On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill to ensure Gov. Tom Wolf would get his $350 million in additional education money, though there is debate over where the new tax revenue will come from, Charles Thompson of PennLive reports. The only tax hike that can be expected in the final budget as of now is an increase in the state’s cigarette tax, currently $1.06/pack.

An increase of 0.1% in the state’s income tax rate could generate an additional $414 million annually, though the move has proven unpopular in the legislature.

GOP Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne said it would take around $650 to $700 million to balance the budget for the fiscal year that started over 25 weeks ago.

The Senate’s budget package includes major pension reform measures, as well as a bill to allow consumers to purchase wine in some supermarkets before sending the budget package to the PA House.

The House is expected to strengthen the privatization provisions of the bill, with Speaker Mike Turzai one of the state’s biggest supporters for the complete sale of the state’s 601 Wine & Spirits stores. Just after vetoing the GOP’s budget at the end of June, Wolf rejected a Republican-crafted bill to privatize the entire liquor industry.

The Governor’s office hit out at House GOP members on Friday, saying the chamber is “controlled by extreme right-wing members that kowtow to special interests.” The statement prompted Turzai to call Wolf “far to the left.”

“He does not really ever talk about the hardworking men and women who have to pay the taxes,” Turzai rebutted.

Some in the Senate are worried about the House changing their bills, having negotiated them with help from House leadership and the governor’s office to ensure passage, Chris Comisac and Kevin Zwick of Capitolwire report.

“They have to be careful about all the stuff they’re trying to amend,” Drew Crompton, chief of staff and legal counsel to Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, told Capitolwire. “I mean all those were battles that we have a lot of welts from.”

“There are five sides to the equation,” he explained.

As the first half of the 2015-16 fiscal year comes to an end, school districts and counties are approaching the $1 billion mark in terms of borrowing, while some have not survived the six-month standoff.

December 14th, 2015 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “PA-BGT: How Do You Solve a Five-Sided Equation?”

  1. David Diano says:

    It looks like the Republicans slipped some environmental deregulation into the budget.

    Wolf CAN use his line item veto on this trick, but the reporting indicates that he will continue to be ball-less on this and cave, rather than protect the environment and the citizens of PA. He didn’t get his severance tax (and ALL the same legislators will be in office for the next budget, so don’t expect different outcome with the same players), so why should he give them deregulation?

    Someone please explain how to govern to Wolf.

    http://www.ragingchickenpress.org/2015/12/15/pabudget-dont-bank-on-a-line-item-veto-that-set-back-natural-gas-regulations-campaign-promises/

  2. rsklaroff says:

    @d2:

    As usual, you miss the point.

    Arithmetically, the first recognition stage is to ensure that five variables have been ID’ed within the five equations.

    Then, algebraically, the simplest equation is “solved” for one variable, and then what emerges is plugged-into the remaining four equations.

    This process is followed until only one equation with one variable [presumably, Wolf] remains, and then…by working backwards…the other four variables are solved, as well.

    Piece of cake.

  3. Central PA Dem says:

    It’s time to start talking primary challenges in every House district. If they cannot get the job done, then it’s time to replace them. If you are fed up, stop talking and start running. It’s only a matter of weeks before petitions can be circulated. At the end of the day, the one thing House members care about most is keeping their jobs.

  4. aaron says:

    No new taxes!

  5. Isaac L. says:

    My god, man – that sounds like a script for the next Saw movie!

  6. David Diano says:

    PA-BGT: How Do You Solve a Five-Sided Equation?

    Locked room. One day supply of food. One porta-potty.

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