HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – It has been more than five weeks since the state legislature passed a state budget without passing a plan to pay for it, and the responsibility for that delay, says Gov. Tom Wolf, is clearly with the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives.
On Monday, KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked the governor directly, “Governor, how do you characterize what the Republican House leadership is doing, or not doing, right now?”
“I think they are trying to figure out what they want to do,” said Wolf, “and that’s the way democracy works. The key is we just need to get this done.”
The Republican-controlled state Senate has already passed a revenue bill that would impose a small tax on Marcellus shale natural gas and restore a tax from the last decade on homeowners who use natural gas, along with a slight hike in the electricity and telephone service fees.
Many House Republicans don’t like this tax mix but have not yet enacted a revenue plan of their own.
Right now, Gov. Wolf and the state Senate appear to be letting the state House of Representatives either adopt their funding plan or come up with one of their own.
But after Aug. 31, no more Mister Nice Guy.
If the House has not passed a revenue plan by then, it will be time to stop state spending on a number of programs, says Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa.
“There will be significant cuts in a variety of other programs that would occur, that will harm people,” says Costa. “The only places you can cut is education and human services primarily, and those programs will be impacted and people will feel the effects of that.”
For his part, Wolf rejects any notion that he has not been hands-on in trying to resolve this impasse, as suggested Monday by the Republican Governors Association.
“I’m actively involved,” he said. “I have been since the beginning when I gave my budget address on time back in February.”