Tuesday, August 25, 2015

House GOP Fails In Partial Override Of State Budget Veto; Adolph: The End Is Not Near

House Republicans Tuesday failed in 14 attempts to override the veto of specific line items in Gov. Wolf’s veto of the state budget bill-- House Bill 1192-- all by party-line votes of 115 to 83, less than the two-thirds (136) needed to override the veto.
The Republicans control the House 119 members to 84, but they failed to get the 17 Democrats needed for the two-thirds override.
The failed overrides included these combinations of line items--
-- 274 social service line items;
-- Funding for 60 domestic violence programs;
-- $728 million in school food service state and federal funding for K-12 schools;
-- $355 million in student grants from the PA Higher Education Assistance Agency;
-- $9 million in state and federal funds for the Department of Agriculture for the farmers market food coupon program;
-- $1.3 million for the Victims of Juvenile Offenders Program;
-- $18.9 million for the County Juvenile Probation Services Program;
-- $549.1 million for School District Pupil Transportation funding;
-- $8.5 million for the Safe Schools Initiative funding;
-- $1.2 billion: $457 million Individuals With Disabilities Education, $625 million local education Title I Programs, $130 million Teacher Improvement federal funding only;
-- $87.9 million Services To Nonpublic Schools funding;
-- $18.4 million State Food Bank Purchase Program funding in the Department of Agriculture’s budget;
-- $26.75 million Textbooks, Instructional Materials, Equipment For Nonpublic Schools funding; and
-- Community Based Health Care Subsidies, Cancer Screening Services, School District Health Services, Services for Children With Special Needs, Community Based Family Centers, Red Cross Extended Care Program, Nurse Family Partnership and federal appropriation for Medical Assistance and MCH Early Childhood Home Visiting Program [combining 7 motions].
House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) said the House had the opportunity to provide money to social service and other groups in the 274 line items Democrats, Republicans and Gov. Wolf already agreed to, out of 401 line items.
Rep. Reed said lawmakers could get these groups funding by Friday if the vote was successful, since the Republican Senate would have come back to session Wednesday to vote the same overrides.
He also noted Republicans had agreed to another line item, not included in the veto override-- $400 million more for basic education.
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) called the Republican effort a political stunt that gave social service providers false hope of getting funding because the partial budget override vote is unconstitutional.
“The Republican budget was wrong on June 30 and it’s wrong now,” said Rep. Dermody.
On the constitutional issue, Rep. Dermody pointed to an advisory legal opinion from the Legislative Reference Bureau emailed to members during the debate saying the House had to consider a veto in the same character as the Governor presented it, meaning the entire budget veto can only be overridden.
Republicans said the opinion was just that, advisory, and noted the opinion said there has not been an instance in the past where a partial veto override was even attempted.
In his last comments before the final vote was taken, Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, told members, “The end is NOT near” in terms of an overall budget agreement.
The House adjourned until September 21, unless sooner recalled.  It's the same day the Senate plans to return to Harrisburg.

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