Majority of Voters Blame Legislature for Budget Impasse, Poll Shows

Stephen Herzenberg |

In a story on Lancasteronoline today, East Hempfield Township resident Duane Smith made the same observation that our analysis of the property tax relief plans of Gov. Wolf and House Republicans revealed a month ago: The two proposals aren’t all that different.

That observation led Smith to tell the reporter, “To me, Republicans are the ones that are holding up the (budget) process.”  He is not alone in his thinking. Fifty-four percent of voters surveyed in a new Daily News/Franklin & Marshall poll released today said they blame the legislature for the budget impasse, compared to only 29 percent who hold the governor responsible.

Poll director Terry Madonna explained the results this way in a Daily News story: “Wolf gets elected by 10 points and says he wants to increase education spending. That was a big issue. How’s he want to pay for it? With a shale tax. What he has proposed to do, the voters want.”

Let me repeat that last part because it’s important for Republican legislators to remember eight weeks into the budget impasse and two days after their constitutionally creative line-item veto override votes failed: “What he has proposed to do, the voters want.”

So let’s do a quick review here. Gov. Wolf has proposed a property tax relief plan that is similar to House Republicans’ plan. He also has proposed a funding increase for education and a severance tax that voters like.

The poll also revealed a certain amount of voter impatience: two out of three respondents said lawmakers shouldn’t be paid until the budget situation is resolved.

You don’t need more research to conclude that it’s time for the legislature’s leadership to bring some real compromise to the negotiating table.