Budget Breakdown: Will there be a deal by Christmas?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Talking turkey, Governor Tom Wolf dashed hopes that the state would be feasting on a budget by Thanksgiving.

There were optimism and talk of a framework just two weeks ago, but in remarks to the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday it was clear that bird has flown.

“Unfortunately, that work looks like it’s in peril, deep peril,” Wolf said. “The Republicans have been unable to muster the votes they need to transform this agreed upon framework into a real budget.”

Though nearly five months late, the budget remains in the oven.

It’s likely that leaders couldn’t muster support for a hike in the sales tax from 6 to 7.25 percent. House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) said the Legislature is still working hard for a deal. He also said that agreeing to broad concepts is not the same as having a budget.

“As you get into the details, that’s where the devil lies,” Adolph said Monday.

But while legislative leaders and the governor still struggle to carve up the $30 billion-plus budget bird, more and more folks are going hungry.

“It’s devastating,” said Terri Hamrick of the budget stalemate. “Eighty percent of our budget comes from state and federal funding. Our federal funding is also hung up because they are not passing it through.”

Hamrick is the president and CEO of Survivors Inc., an Adams County organization that offers support and shelter to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. She says the need is great, but the cupboard is nearly bare.

“We are in collections, we’ve had phones turned off, we’ve had our garbage not being picked up because we’re delinquent on that bill,” Hamrick said. “I’m trying to keep the lights on and keep a safe place for these folks who have no place else to go.”

Thanksgiving will come and go without a budget. The impasse is in its 146th day with no end in sight. Could it be a cashless Christmas in the commonwealth?

“Republicans have a majority in the House, they have a majority in the Senate, they need to give me a budget,” Wolf implored.

He’s not the only one calling for a deal to get done.

“Hopefully, we can get something we can agree on,” Adolph said, “but we’re not there yet.”

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