Statement on Gov. Wolf’s Decision to Allow the Appropriations Bill to Become Law

Marc Stier |

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement on Governor Wolf’s decision to allow the appropriations bill to become law:

“Governor Wolf announced that he will let the general fund appropriation bill passed last week become law without his signature if the General Assembly does not pass a revenue bill that fully funds the spending it calls for.

“This is an unfortunate, yet reasonable, response to a difficult situation created by the unwillingness of extremists among House Republicans to agree to a revenue package.

“Given the ongoing difficulty of securing an agreement with the extremist faction of the Republican party to fund the government at an adequate level, it was reasonable for Governor Wolf not to risk vetoing the appropriation bill in whole or part. There is no guarantee that spending he vetoed in an already-austere budget would be passed again by the House of Representatives.

“Yet Governor Wolf’s decision creates some risks as well. If the General Assembly fails to pass sufficient revenues soon, two consequences are likely:

“First, the state will face another credit downgrade, which will increase borrowing costs at both the state and local levels.

“Second, Governor Wolf will have to freeze spending so that the state budget remains balanced.

“The second result is problematic, and not just because a spending freeze is likely to fall on education and human services. Leaving decisions about where to suspend spending to the Governor violates the spirit of our constitution, in which spending decisions are made by the General Assembly together with the governor.

“Effective constitutional government in Pennsylvania, like anywhere else, depends on political opponents reaching agreement based on compromise and comity.

“For the second year in a row, extremists among House Republicans have been unwilling to compromise with the Governor or Democrats and Senate Republicans. And that is why we find ourselves in this difficult situation today.”