A $31.6 billion spending plan has been sitting on Tom Wolf’s desk since the fiscal year started on July 1st, but the second year Governor has been reluctant to sign it into law without a plan in place to raise new revenue.
On Sunday night, Wolf said he will sign the budget into law Monday if the legislature gets a revenue package to him. If the General Assembly fails to agree on how to bring in an additional $1.3 billion to balance the budget, Wolf will let the spending plan lapse into law at midnight without a revenue deal and without his signature.
“If a revenue package were already on my desk, I would have been proud to sign it,” Wolf said. “If a revenue package is passed before midnight on Monday, I will be equally as proud to sign it then. But if the General Assembly fails to pass a responsible revenue package by tomorrow evening, this bill will become law without my signature.”
In March, the 2015-16 fiscal year budget became law without Wolf’s signature after a protracted nine-month stalemate. The administration said the Governor is not constitutionally required to take any action on the spending bill on his desk, though he will have to take action on any revenue plan.
Lawmakers are eyeing new taxes on tobacco products, along with new money from increased liquor and wine sales and expanded gambling revenues, though there has been some resistance to balancing the budget with “sin taxes.”
Wolf said he senses a “different spirit” in Harrisburg and feels comfortable putting his faith in the legislature to work out a deal in the final hours, though it may take some pressure off lawmakers knowing the spending plan will pass by midnight.
“We’ve enacted historic liquor reform, legalized medical marijuana, and agreed upon a fair funding formula for our schools,” Wolf said. “This budget is another shining example of the effectiveness of that sort of bipartisan cooperation, but we are not done yet. We owe it to taxpayers, our children, seniors, and our most vulnerable to bring this across the finish line, and continue the spirit of cooperation that has made this progress possible.”