Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wolf To Allow GOP Budget Bill To Become Law, But Will Veto Fiscal Code Bill

Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday announced he would let the Republican FY 2015-16 budget bill-- House Bill 1801 (Irvin-R-Centre) -- become law without his signature.  The bill contains $6.05 billion in supplemental appropriations for the current year.
He will also allow bills to become law that would fund Penn State, Pitt, Lincoln and the University of Pennsylvania in Senate Bills 912, 913, 914, 915 and 916.
At the same time, Gov. Wolf said he would veto the entire Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike)-- citing constitutional issues with some language and because of concerns he had with some environmental provisions in the bill.
“I am going to allow the 2015-2016 budget to become law without my signature,” said Gov. Wolf. “This will allow for funding to go out to schools and other services in the short term, but we still face enormous problems that this budget does not even pretend to address.
“Let’s be clear: the math in this budget does not work. Next fiscal year - that already has a $2 billion deficit - will now begin with an extra $300 million deficit. Ratings agencies and the Independent Fiscal Office have all agreed that we face a massive structural deficit,” added Gov. Wolf. “Left unaddressed, the deficit will force cuts to schools and human services, devastating credit downgrades that will cost taxpayers millions, and increase property taxes for our senior citizens. We must face this reality this year and balance our budget with real, sustainable revenues.”
At a press conference following the Governor’s announcement, both House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said they were happy with the Governor’s action to bring the FY 2015-16 budget to a close based on the $30 billion Republican General Fund budget.
Sen. Corman did say they would be looking at the impact of the Governor’s veto of the Fiscal Code bill.  He noted the formula for distributing basic education funding was in the Fiscal Code bill, so they would be looking to see how the Governor distributes that funding to schools.
Sen. Corman repeated what he has said before in looking at next year’s budget-- new revenue will be a last resort for us.
Rep. Reed said they would be meeting as soon as Monday to work on the FY 2016-17 budget.  He added if there was a need to rectify any problems caused by the Governor’s veto of the Fiscal Code bill they would certainly consider passing new legislation to fix those problems.
General Fund Bill Contents
House Bill 1801 (Irvin-R-Centre) includes $6.05 billion in supplementation appropriations for--
-- Dept. of Agriculture - $83.8 million
-- Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources - $2.25 million Heritage Parks Program
-- Dept. of Environmental Protection - does NOT restore $900,000 for Sewage Facilities Grants
Click Here for a copy of the line-by-line General Fund spreadsheet by House Republicans. A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.
Fiscal Code Bill
The Governor said he will veto all of House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike), the Fiscal Code bill. The provisions that would NOT become law include a new bipartisan basic education funding formula and language that would have killed DEP’s Chapter 78 conventional drilling regulations and make DEP start over, reduced Growing Greener watershed restoration funding by $15 million this fiscal year and slowed consideration of any state plan to comply with the EPA Clean Power Climate Plan.
The bill would have also transferred $12 million from the High Performance Green Buildings Program to the Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Fund administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
Also included in the bill was language related to transfers from the Department of Agriculture that could affect some agency programs.
A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.
This is the fourth budget Republicans sent to the Governor since June 30 of last year.   (Click Here for the timeline.)
The General Fund budget was vetoed entirely by the Governor last July.  A stopgap budget package in September was vetoed by the Governor in its entirety.  And finally, $6.8 billion of the General Fund budget passed in December was line-item vetoed by the Governor.
In between those budgets, the House failed in 14 attempts to override the Governor’s veto of the June 30 budget.
Wolf Will Let Budget Bill Become Law Without His Signature

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