Is Governor Wolf punishing Democrats over budget battle?

Paybacks, as they say, are … unpleasant.

Doubly so in politics.

Thirteen Pennsylvania House Democrats say they’re getting paid back from the Wolf Administration and it’s not pleasant.

The 13, fearing schools would close in their districts, voted with Republicans to finally end the 2015-16 budget stalemate.

Governor Wolf dropped his veto pen and let the budget pass into law, thus letting the money flow.

But is there now payback for that unlucky 13?

Many of them say absolutely, and they’re angry that Wolf is targeting them for supporting the GOP-crafted budget. ABC27 has learned they discussed the issue in a members-only caucus.

ABC27 has also obtained a letter sent to Wolf and signed by 10 of the 13 (Chris Sainato, Frank Burns, Nick Kotik, Bryan Bizzaro, Tim Mahoney, Harry Readshaw, Gerry Mullery, Bill Kortz, Brandon Neuman, and Peter Daley). It says that since the budget vote, the lawmakers “have experienced shocking treatment in our relationship with your administration … Requests for assistance, normally handled by our legislative liaisons, are being redirected to your office of legislative affairs. This is unacceptable.”

In plain English, the lawmakers are saying they and their constituents are getting the cold shoulder from state agencies under the governor’s command.

“Of course there was frustration,” Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said of the Democrats who broke ranks on the budget vote.

Sheridan said he hasn’t seen the letter and knows nothing of retaliation by the administration against the 13 Democrats, but he did say, “those Democrats that voted with the Republicans took an irresponsible approach to this. They just wanted to end an impasse. They didn’t care what the solution was for Pennsylvania moving forward. They voted with Republicans to continue us down a path where we’re gonna have to make devastating cuts to education and human services if we don’t fix the deficit. That’s on them. They have to answer to their constituents.”

The letter strikes a conciliatory tone asking that, “any thoughts of retribution be put aside so that we can move forward together.”

The Democrats in question wouldn’t comment because they’ve given Wolf two days to respond.

But House Republicans have gotten wind of the spat and are puzzled by it.

“That’s unacceptable,” Representative John Payne said. “Look, I’m going to vote today no on some bill and one of my good friends is going be upset about it. And tomorrow they’re going vote no on a bill I want. That’s life up here. You can’t take this personal and you have to look at the big picture.”

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