HARRISBURG — Thursday came and went without discernible movement in the state budget standoff between Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative Republicans, increasing the likelihood that lawmakers send the Democratic governor legislation without his priorities by the deadline early next week.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said Thursday afternoon that while House Republicans maintain the goal of all parties reaching agreement, they are prepared to “keep the process moving” by delivering their own budget to Mr. Wolf.
“The governor can make a choice to line-item veto a couple things to continue the discussion, but there’s no need to hold everybody else hostage over the summer,” Mr. Reed said.
Asked whether the governor would veto a budget that does not include all of his priorities, his press secretary, Jeffrey Sheridan, said Mr. Wolf has not seen a specific Republican plan.
“We haven’t even seen what budget they’re talking about.”
The House on Thursday began to position bills that would make appropriations for the state-related universities, which include Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Sheridan said the governor on Thursday reiterated his priorities for the budget: enacting a severance tax on natural gas drilling to increase school funding, providing relief from school property taxes and closing the state’s budget shortfall.
“He’s not going to accept anything less than that,” Mr. Sheridan said.
Mr. Wolf and the Republicans controlling both legislative chambers have been at odds over the state budget and the policy initiatives that have become connected to it. Republicans want to remake the pension systems for state and public school workers and to turn over sales of wine and liquor to the private sector.
The two sides have exchanged criticisms of the other’s willingness to negotiate. On Thursday, Mr. Wolf’s communications director, Mark Nicastre, issued a memorandum titled “Significant Concessions v. Obstruction” that argued the governor had met Republicans “more than halfway” in negotiations.
Legislators are scheduled to be at the Capitol through the weekend in an attempt to deliver a budget before the state’s new fiscal year begins Wednesday.
This article was written by Karen Langley from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.