Harrisburg – Sept. 18, 2015 – Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) today condemned the proposed four-month $11.22 billion Republican stopgap budget as a “political ploy” designed to thwart negotiations on a comprehensive budget agreement.
“The Senate Republican stopgap budget plan is a political ploy that drags down efforts to construct a long-term, comprehensive budget agreement that includes real dollars for education, human services, deficit reduction and property tax cuts,” Costa said. “Stopgap budgets are only used when you are not up to the task of negotiating a full budget.
“We keep wasting time on budget tricks and veto-override maneuvers instead of bargaining sessions that would ultimately result in a comprehensive spending plan.”
The stopgap budget passed the Senate today on a partisan, party-line vote and now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration. Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to veto it.
The Republican stopgap is a slimmed down version of the Republican budget that was vetoed by the governor June 30.
Costa said the Republican plan does not include a reasonable Marcellus Shale extraction tax or property tax relief, which are supported by a strong majority of Pennsylvanians and remain among Senate Democratic priorities.
“The plan is essentially one-third of what was before the Senate earlier this year,” Costa said. “That was a bad budget that was balanced on tricks and faulty revenues that would keep Pennsylvania treading water.
Costa said that negotiators can do better but are hobbled by Republican intransigence. He said that the governor has offered significant compromises on two issues that Republicans say must meet their demands – pensions and liquor privatization – before any consideration of the General Fund budget will be considered.
“It is incredibly frustrating to negotiate when Republicans apparently see no value in agreeing to a long-term plan that includes real investments in education, human services, job creation, property tax relief and a shale extraction tax while addressing the $1.3 billion deficit,” Costa said. “The Republican tactics and budget ploys raise real questions about whether they are interested in any comprehensive agreement.”
Pennsylvania does not have an approved General Fund spending plan. The budget was supposed to be approved by June 30.