Calling it another move to a create a crisis for Pennsylvania schools and taxpayers, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) condemned Governor Wolf’s decision to veto the state’s bipartisan fiscal code which serves as the map for spending state funds.
“The Fiscal Code is an integral part of the state budget and necessary for accurate disbursement of budgetary funds,” Senator Scarnati said. “After nine months of failing to sign a complete budget – we are once again seeing the Governor play games with Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned tax dollars.”
“With this arbitrary veto, Governor Wolf has cut $439 million from schools,” said Senator Corman. “The Governor is again showing his willingness to manufacture a crisis and use schools, students and families as pawns. At the tip of the Governor’s veto pen are schools left searching for ways to pay the interest on loans or school construction costs. The end result will be higher local property taxes for Pennsylvanians.”
The state’s budget went into effect at midnight Sunday after the Governor chose not to veto or sign the bill. However, the Governor vetoed the state’s fiscal code, which serves as the instruction manual for how the money in the budget is to be distributed. The fiscal code passed both the Senate and House with a bipartisan vote.
Vetoing the fiscal code freezes $150 million in additional funds for schools that was provided in the budget. The budget bill specifically outlines that the new money cannot be distributed without enacting the fiscal code (p. 47 of HB 1801). The fiscal code distributed the money according to the recommendations of the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission.
The Governor’s veto also cuts $289 million that was to address the state’s failure to provide promised reimbursements for school construction and renovations projects – commonly referred to as PLANCON (Planning and Construction Workbook). Last week, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Administrators outlined the importance of receiving the PLANCON money. The leaders called the administration’s concern over issuing bonds a poor excuse given the state’s current AA bond rating.
“Our schools and many vital programs across our state deserve to have their funding,” Senator Scarnati stated. “It is disingenuous for Governor Wolf to continuously claim that he is fighting for more money for education, when in reality he is preventing increased funding passed by the Senate and House of Representatives from reaching the school districts that so desperately need it.”
“The Governor has claimed to place money for schools above all else, but in the end it was not his priority, given his willingness to continually use his veto to cut millions of dollars from schools,” Senator Corman said. “The education and school construction items were agreed to through the negotiation process. The only issues with the fiscal code that were raised by the administration were the two environmental areas he mentioned. The Governor has picked his winners and losers and with a $439 million cut, schools and students have lost.”