By Jon Delano


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At a luncheon of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), state legislators responded to Gov. Tom Wolf’s attack on them for failing to pass a compromise budget before the holidays.

For Republicans, it’s all about Wolf and taxes.

“This is the cost of having the most liberal governor in the country,” declared Pennsylvania Sen. Camera Bartolotta, a Washington County Republican.

Bartolotta told NAIFA members that voters chose divided government, which means compromise.

“Are we going to dig in our heels and say, no, my way or the highway? We might be in this about three years from now. Is that what we all want? Is that the best thing for Pennsylvania? No. Negotiations mean not everyone is going to get a hundred percent of what they want,” said Bartolotta.

But Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone, an Elizabeth Republican who identifies with the conservative wing of House Republicans, says compromise cannot include higher taxes.

“The people are not looking for more tax revenue,” said Saccone. “They’re looking for cuts in spending. That’s what they sent us there to do – cut spending, [to] rein in this government monster and don’t put anymore burden on them, and I think that’s what we’re going to do.”

Democrats say former Gov. Tom Corbett already cut the budget to the bone and left behind a billion dollar structural deficit.

“To say that you’re going to take raising revenue off the table completely I think is not a responsible way to govern,” noted Pennsylvania Rep. Dan Frankel, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

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One young financial advisor suggested legalizing and taxing marijuana like Colorado.

That elicited this idea from Pennsylvania Rep. Paul Costa, a Wilkins Democrat and Democratic chair of the House Liquor Control Committee.

“We already have the infrastructure set up to sell marijuana with our state store system. We already have a single purchaser. We already have a store where you have to be 21,” said Costa.

Booze and weed at state stores?

That brought a quick reaction from Saccone:

“I just think it’s shameful that government has to rely on the vices of people to fund our government. So we’re going to sell booze and marijuana, and maybe get a prostitute while you’re there. We’ll tax that and we’ll have one-stop shops — get high and have fun.”

“No, we shouldn’t be doing that,” Saccone quickly added.

And the budget debate goes on.