Lost amidst all the other developments the past few weeks is the fact that we are just days away from the June 30th budget deadline.
Maybe we haven’t been paying as much attention because it has been clear for quite some time that we are going to blow right by that deadline.
Sensing that this will be the case, the Wolf Administration is trying to frame the impasse as Republicans refusing to be reasonable and negotiate.
“Throughout negotiations with Senate and House Republicans, Governor Wolf has made it clear that he has three simple priorities to move Pennsylvania forward,” the Governor’s Communications Director Mark Nicastre writes in a mass email to the press.
According to Nicastre, Wolf’s three goals are as follows: 1. “A commonsense severance tax to help fund schools” 2. “Provide property tax relief to middle-class families and seniors” 3. “Fix Pennsylvania’s structural budget deficit without gimmicks”.
“The governor understands that Republican leadership have their priorities as well, and he has met them more than halfway in an effort to reach a final compromise on a budget that will serve as a blueprint for our future,” Nicastre continues.
“However, Republican leaders have refused to compromise at all, even as Governor Wolf has made major concessions and worked diligently on their priorities,” he asserts. “Republicans instead seem intent on political theater and going it alone on a gimmick-filled plan that doesn’t address our commonwealth’s problems.”
He then presented contrasting statements on a severance tax, liquor reform, and pension reform.*
“The people of Pennsylvania should be disappointed in Harrisburg Republican leaders who are clearly not interested in solving problems or working in the best interests of the people of Pennsylvania,” Nicastre concludes.
Meanwhile, Republicans seem intent on passing a budget on their own and daring Gov. Wolf to veto it.
Possibly in response to Nicastre’s message, PA GOP Communications Director Megan Sweeney released her own statement to the media.
“It’s become clear that Governor Tom Wolf’s top budget priority is raising taxes,” Sweeney said. “For months, Tom Wolf has traveled around the Commonwealth peddling a series of tax hikes that would cripple the budgets of countless Pennsylvania families. Even after the state House voted to unanimously reject the Wolf tax hikes, Tom Wolf is stubbornly refusing to move on a single one of his tax increases.
“Pennsylvanians deserve a responsible budget that focuses on growing our economy instead of expanding the scope of our government,” she concluded. “It’s time for Governor Wolf to stop campaigning and start hold substantive discussions with the State Senate and State House.”
*For formatting purposes, the following charts are snapshots from the Wolf Administration’s email. If you’d like to to check out their links, you can access them here: WITF, PennLive, Capitolwire, Patriot-News, AP.
It’s as if the PA Republican Party isn’t even concerned with reality any more. Megan Sweeney is just straight up lying at this point. Governor Wolf has had a number of discussions with House and Senate Rs, offering substantial concessions, and they flat out announced to everyone – ON CAMERA – that they aren’t negotiating. And this is somehow the governor’s fault? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
The EPA hasn’t done adequate testing. The oil/gas industry has been claiming that since some of the contamination is from naturally occurring chemicals that it’s not from them. But, new tests have shown that it is from them. The EPA’s report did not include recent test results.
In the long run, this time, it will not be our Governor who loses the next election, but our bewildering legislature. There are real problems in this state and the strategies offered up by the legislature did not work with the last governor and will not work with this one. Nothing seems to move forward. It is long overdue that structural problems get solved and that new senators and representatives take over the leadership in Harrisburg who get economics and can talk about issues in terms that make sense to the people. Pennsylvania can become a progressive state, where wealth is shared and commitments are honored by all who contribute for the common good.
GUESS THE EPA IS WRONG, DIANO
On the severance tax:
The Wolf administration will completely ignore the complaints and evidence of pollution, water contamination and heath problems in order to get the tax and help the budget gap. The health and well-being of the citizens in these communities are to be sacrificed without any further consideration.