HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Santa Claus was in the Capitol Thursday.
Christmas spirit and the budget, however, were nowhere to be found.
“The House Republicans are holding it up,” said a clearly frustrated Jeff Sheridan, Governor Wolf’s spokesman.
The governor’s people blasted Speaker of the House Mike Turzai and his 12:30 pm deadline to round up votes for the $30.8 billion framework budget agreed to by three other caucuses and the governor. There was not talk about that deadline, which passed with no action.
“That was an erratic move by the house speaker who’s now known for his erratic moves,” Sheridan said. “That came out of left field, nobody really knows what he’s talking about.”
Nobody seemed to know exactly what taxes would have to be increased to support the $30.8 billion framework. A vote on it never occurred.
“We don’t have 102 tax votes, that’s Republicans and Democrats,” said Representative Seth Grove (R-York). “You can have a Star Wars-Star Trek convention party in here you’re still not gonna get 102 votes right now out of the House.”
And it’s unclear if Senate support is now wavering. Senator Richard Alloway (Franklin,Adams,Cumberland,York) voted yes initially to support his leadership without knowing what taxes would be hiked. He’s now teetering and says without pension reform he’ll switch.
“You want me to take revenue from citizens of Pennsylvania and pour it into a system that you’re not willing to make structural changes to?” Alloway asked. “It’s unfair and I’m not gonna do it.”
Representatives were pressured from both sides.
Senator Scott Wagner (R-York) sent this letter to House members urging them to vote no and reminding them that they stand for re-election next year. The letter concludes, “your constituents are watching you – they want you to vote no. Stand tall and have courage.”
On the other side, an unnamed Wolf administration official threatened to blue line House funding if they don’t support the budget.
“It’s December 17th,” Sheridan said. “We need to pass a budget. Schools need money, human service agencies need money, we need to pass this budget and House Republicans need to deliver.”