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LETTER: GOP can't ignore Wolf
As we in government struggle to enact a budget, people are weighing in with their opinion. Recently, my colleague Sen. Scott Wagner sent a letter to media outlets across the state offering the Republican Party line. In the interests of balance, I offer this competing view.
Sen. Wagner laments that people aren't blaming Gov. Tom Wolf for the impasse. He argues: "The legislature met its obligation to pass a balanced budget" and, therefore, it is only the governor's obstinate refusal to sign this budget which is keeping schools, communities and nonprofits from receiving their appropriations.
It is true that the Republican majority in the Legislature passed "a budget." But Gov. Wolf did not campaign for governor promising to sign literally anything the Legislature passed, no matter how poor and inadequate it is.
The Constitution requires the governor's signature for a reason. He is the head of a co-equal branch of government. The Legislature knew that the budget they were passing was not viable and that it would never become law. Thus, it was nothing more than a political stunt.
The Republicans are clearly aware of the governor's role. But they don't seem to be happy about it. They simply ignored him. They passed a "budget" that former Gov. Tom Corbett might have introduced, knowing that it did not reflect any of the priorities on which Gov. Wolf campaigned. And now they feign surprise that Gov. Wolf doesn't just sign it.
Sen. Wagner correctly points out that Gov. Wolf could have signed parts of the budget while vetoing the rest. However, that would have been highly irresponsible. Spending money on some things without having any idea how much we will ultimately spend on other things, and without knowing what our tax structure will be, is a recipe for fiscal catastrophe.
Sen. Wagner finishes his editorial with a stock attack on "taxing and spending" and a promise not to vote for additional taxes. Fair enough. I could certainly talk about all the investments in Pennsylvania we have failed to make recently, and how we desperately need the revenue that a shale tax would provide.
However, the more pressing point is that there won't be any budget until the Republican legislators acknowledge that there is a governor, and that he has concerns and priorities that must be addressed.
STATE SEN. DAYLIN LEACH
Montgomery and Delaware counties