Gov. Wolf delays $1.7B in payments as budget stalemate drags on

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania’s bank account has dipped below zero and payments that were due Friday and Monday are now delayed until a final budget deal is done.

Wolf said he must delay $1.6 billion in payments to medical assistance and pensions because of the ongoing budget stalemate.

House Republicans say it’s not the crisis the governor is suggesting. There was no sense of urgency and no session in either chamber.

State Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) believes House Republicans are being pressured to raise taxes, which he says they won’t do.

“Government’s got to learn to live within its means,” he said. “This perspective that we can keep taxing people into prosperity is just a silly idea.”

A conservative group is suing the governor, the legislature, the treasurer and auditor general for allowing unbalanced budgets for years. The state constitution says the books must balance and can’t be under water.

“I think their suit has merit,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said.

DePasquale has been a constant critic of the fuzzy math and entrenched ideologies that bedevil budgets.

“If you want to not raise taxes, that’s fine. Then find places to make the cuts because the budget hasn’t actually been balanced for the past year and a half,” he said.

The groups whose checks have been delayed may have to borrow money, a cost that could be passed on to taxpayers.

State workers are not in jeopardy. Courts have ruled if they work, they must be paid.

The Senate is due to return to Harrisburg on Monday.

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