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Dems support Wolf, urge end to impasse
As the state budget stalemate nears the one-month mark, Democratic lawmakers in York City on Tuesday reiterated their support for Gov. Tom Wolf and his budget proposal.
They also stood firm as they decried the Republican-drafted $30.2 billion budget that was vetoed by Wolf in June.
Since then, Republican legislators and Wolf's administration have been at an impasse with little progress made toward reaching a compromise.
One Democrat said the governor, who hails from Mount Wolf, shouldn't budge when it comes to property tax relief and increasing funding for education.
"I don't think we should compromise when we have a (Republican) budget that includes a structural deficit," Mike Sturla, a Democrat who represents part of Lancaster County, said during a press conference in front of the York City Schools administration building.
Sturla was referring to a $2.3 billion structural state deficit.
Opposition: Wolf's $33.7 billion budget plan includes taxing the gas industry and using that money to increase education funding, and property tax reform that would lower property tax while increasing and expanding sales tax.
But the Republican opposition raised issue with what they say is an unbearable tax hike for Pennsylvanians.
Republicans argue that Wolf's budget proposal would collectively increase taxes $12 billion over two years while distributing $3.8 billion — which includes $600 million in casino gambling revenue — to homeowners to offset school property taxes.
Democrats: During the press conference, Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Democrat from Berks County, said the GOP version of the budget is nothing more than a fifth incarnation of similar budgets proposed by former Republican Gov.Tom Corbett, who served a single, four-year term.
The Democrats noted Wolf's budget includes forms of Republican ideas, such as property tax reform.
Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, called Wolf's budget plan a "more populous, less partisan budget" — and he said the majority of Pennsylvanians support the governor's spending plan.
The Wolf plan, Schreiber said, is a holistic approach to reform unseen in the state before.
Rep. Patty Kim, a Democrat from Dauphin County, said she's hopeful the Republicans and Democrats can come together and work out some sort of compromise.
But in order to do so, both sides have to give a little, she said.
"I hope every day we are inching closer," Kim said. "We are here today because we are fighting for a balanced budget."
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.