HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf says he’s vetoing parts of a $30.3 billion budget that legislators approved before their holiday vacation, but he’s releasing more than $23.3 billion in emergency funding so schools and human services agencies can stay open.
Wolf called the Republican spending plan an “exercise in stupidity” that does not balance. He said it would increase the state’s deficit by a half billion dollars this fiscal year and by $2 billion more in 2016-2017.
“There’s a reason why the outside rating agencies have downgraded our debt,” he said at a Tuesday news conference. “They’re telling the world what our legislators want to ignore. Our fiscal house is a mess.”
“This exercise in stupidity actually cuts education funding by $95 million compared to the draconian Corbett budgets,” he added. “It does add a modest amount in basic education funding, but then it takes out over $300 million to be used for school construction.”
Wolf said the budget approved last week provides no funding for state-related universities such as Penn State, Temple, and Pitt, and it doesn’t have enough revenue to increase funding for state-owned universities.
“This budget is doubly frustrating because we were so close to a reasonable one,” he said. “That compromise budget was in balance. That compromise budget invested in our kids and our schools. That compromise budget also included historic pension reform and historic liquor reform.”
“Then, before the final vote, the Republican House leaders told their members to go home,” he said. “I get it that everyone is tired of this stalemate. But we were almost there. And this makes what they did all that much more unconscionable. They simply left town before finishing their jobs.”
Republicans say the budget would increase education funding to the highest levels in state history, and do so without increasing the sales or personal income tax.
“While I am appreciative that the governor will finally release some of his hostages and sent some of the monies out to our schools and human service programs, it is disturbing to realize that his partial veto is reflective of his demand for a higher sales or income tax to spend even more money,” House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) said in a statement. “Apparently, a $30.3 billion budget that increases education spending by over $400 million without sales or income tax increases is just not enough.”