Health - February 12, 2016

Wolf Scolds Legislators

In an unprecedented address to the General Assembly, Governor Tom Wolf departed from the usual budget presentation and gave a direct challenge to legislators to “get the job done.” Specifically, he pointed out the structural deficit that is growing because chronic underfunding of fixed costs and key priorities. He said that if the legislators were not prepared to pass budgets for this fiscal year and the next to address PA’s financial needs “you should find another job.”

Republicans were noticeably agitated when the Governor threw down this gauntlet. Many Harrisburg observers wondered out loud how talks would proceed while the Governor was kicking the shins of the leaders underneath the negotiating table.

Wolf continues to press for the three items that he says were agreed to by leaders of all four caucuses in December: pension reform, liquor reform, education funding AND the taxes to pay for it.

While discussions are ongoing about all of these items, the Governor’s approach has raised eyebrows and tempers.

In the meantime, the 2016 election cycle is in full swing with petitions for all incumbents and challengers due on Tuesday, February 16.

This may mean that legislators will be even less likely to compromise on budget issues – particularly if it means a tough vote on tax increases.

As one wag put it: “just when you see light at the end of the tunnel – someone orders more tunnel!”