(HARRISBURG) – Responding to growing pleas from schools and community groups to release overdue state funding, Senate Republicans today led an effort to override Governor Wolf’s veto of an emergency budget passed last month by the General Assembly.
Senate leaders emphasized that the override would have provided badly needed funding while negotiations continue on a final budget agreement. The override required a two-thirds majority, or 33 votes. While all 30 Republican Senators voted for the measure, the emergency funding veto override vote received no Democrat support.
“Governor Wolf’s veto of our Emergency Funding Budget last month showed his refusal to put the needs of our schools and social service organizations first,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25). “Our schools and human service organizations are in critical need of funding to keep their doors open and should not be held hostage during this budget impasse. As legislators, we have a duty to help our communities and today’s veto override vote of the Emergency Funding legislation took a necessary step to provide vital support while a final budget is negotiated. As we continue to move forward, we remain committed to ensuring that the final 2015-16 budget respects taxpayers and hardworking families across Pennsylvania.”
Hours before the vote, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told members of the Senate Democrat Policy Committee that the lack of state funding is having a devastating financial impact on schools throughout Pennsylvania. School districts have already borrowed nearly a half-billion dollars – plus interest payments of $15 million – because of the budget impasse, and that number may double by Thanksgiving.
“This hardship is completely unnecessary – the money is there and the state hasn’t stopped collecting taxes,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34). “Governor Wolf is holding schools, food banks, rape crisis centers and other social service agencies hostage to his plan for huge tax increases that simply have no support. We are all frustrated. The reality is that budget issues are going to take additional time to resolve. This is about getting money to the schools and those in our communities who need it. ”
“Pennsylvania cannot afford the Governor’s massive tax hikes and record high spending levels,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-16) said. “However, school districts, non-profits and agencies should not be punished while a final budget agreement continues to be negotiated. We have a responsibility to fund these vital services and this vote today on an emergency budget would have ensured that we meet those obligations to provide for the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
Today’s vote marks the fifth time since June 30th that the legislature has attempted to have a fiscally responsible budget enacted and keep money flowing to schools and organizations.