Lawmakers take rhetoric to Twitter as PA House passes budget bill

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Weeks after rejecting Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, lawmakers are pushing forward with a new proposal.

The Republican budget measure swept through the House of Representatives Saturday with a vote of 112-77. Nine members were not present.

It’s only step one for the measure, and the future of the budget in the Senate is not clear.  What is clear, the strong language will not be letting up.

Budgets are all about numbers — until they’re not. Rhetoric reigned during the budget battle in the Pennsylvania House.  It spelled itself out on Twitter.  House Democrats knocked the Republican proposal using hashtags like #GimmicksOverGoverning and #PAGOPfail.

“Let’s stop with the gratuitous insults and start getting responsible,” Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland, said on the house floor Saturday.

Republicans tweeted right back, with hashtags #signPAbudget and #FactsNotSpin, an effort to put forth their own projections in the face of Democratic estimates.

The rhetoric spilled onto the floor during debate.Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, called parts of the budget “irresponsible” and “shameful.”  “For the fifth year in a row,” Frankel said, “we’re voting on a budget proposal that is unbalanced, unfair, and unacceptable.”

Republicans say the $30.1 billion budget boasts a big boost for schools; Democrats say not so big. Republicans say no new taxes; Democrats say shifting money around to avoid new taxes is short-sighted.

“I think it’s important to note that we’re being responsible with taxpayers’ dollars,” said Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster. “Before we ever ask them for an additional dollar, we need to make sure that we’re spending the ones we have to the most efficient way possible.”

Despite the language, the 3 p.m. vote broke almost completely along party lines: The bill passed the House with just two Republicans voting against.

“This fails all of our Pennsylvanians by failing our school system; it fails education, provides no property tax relief,” said Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York, after the vote. “This is ultimately more of the same.”

The bill now moves to the Senate.

With Tuesday’s deadline looming, an ominous response from the governor: He tweeted Saturday afternoon “It’s not good enough to continue with the status quo. I will veto the @PAhouseGOP’s unbalanced and unfair budget if it reaches my desk.”  Republicans say that’s on him.  Gov. Wolf also says the budget will spike the deficit to around $3 billion dollars.

Republicans argue stronger state revenues included in the proposal would bring those estimates down.

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