Dems call for GOP reps to get to work
Pennsylvania House Democrats had a simple question they repeatedly asked during a press conference in Harrisburg on Friday.
Where is House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County?
"We know where Donald Trump is," Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware County, said referring to the controversial GOP presidential candidate who attended a Friday luncheon at the swanky Pennsylvania Society in New York City. "Where is the speaker?"
The press conference, held in the Capitol building, featured Democrats from the across the state, including Kevin Schrieber of York City, who also called on Turzai to reconvene the House that day so it can vote on a state budget proposal passed by the Senate days earlier.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel L. Groen released a statement regarding the GOP migration to New York City at such a crucial time for the state, without a budget deal in place. The conservative Commonwealth Club on Friday was hosting a $1,000-a-head luncheon that featured as its guest speaker presidential candidate DonaldTrump.
“It's frankly mind-boggling that Speaker [Mike] Turzai would have the audacity to adjourn the House of Representatives until Saturday afternoon when there is no budget agreement in sight,” Groen stated.
Tale of two budgets: The GOP-controlled Senate on Monday passed a $30.8 billion budget deal that has been endorsed by Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf. But on Tuesday, the House, where Republican also hold a large majority, passed their own version of a budget, this one ringing in at $30.3 billion.
Republican representatives argued the Senate's budget includes too much spending and a key hang-up is the $1.2 billion tax increase that could accompany it as part of the Senate’s deal with Wolf.
Since then the two chambers have been in a staredown of sorts, one side waiting for the other to flinch.
No session: But Democrats who spoke Friday say now is the time for the House to get to work on the Senate's budget, not take a day off.
Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware County, said it's as if the GOP has picked up its ball and gone home.
"Turzai has scheduled a vacation day instead of doing the people's work," she said. "People who elected us are our bosses. Plain and simple."
Schreiber said that each day the impasse continues is like a painful ticking clock.
Locally: The fiasco in Harrisburg to end the impasse has become a sideshow of sorts for local governments, school districts and nonprofits across the state that have had to borrow cash to keep afloat. Some have had to shutter because of the lack of state funding.
Aaron Anderson, head of school at Logos Academy, 250 W. King St. in York City, said the school is relying on creditors to keep its doors open.
If a budget isn't signed in law by the end of 2015, Logos and other schools will lose out on tens of millions of dollars from the Education Improvement Tax Credit program, EITC, that allows businesses to direct tax dollars to schools.
Logos relies on about $1 million in EITC dollars yearly. About 90 percent of the roughly 260 students at the kindergarten through grade 12 school have their tuition offset by funds, he said.
The students come from 12 districts in the county.
"These are kids who are living in poverty or near it," Anderson said.
— Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.