Pennsylvania’s primary election on April 26th has come and gone, with no incumbents being ousted as fallout from last year’s budget impasse. So now, as session continues into May and June, the attention turns again to the Budget. And while the state budget isn’t due for two months, neither side appears to have moved away from the hard-and-fast positions staked out during the historic impasse. Governor Wolf still wants a broad-based tax increase to raise enough money to close the deficit and increase funding for public schools. And the Republicans who control the General Assembly still believe tax increases should be a last resort, and that a mix of cuts and smarter budgeting will produce a good plan. Last year’s battle included several tentative deals, collapses and vetoes, ending when Mr. Wolf declined in March to veto or sign the GOP’s latest proposal, completing a budget of about $30 billion. He pledged to renew the fight this budget season.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed has said the parallels in the two years — the personalities and issues remain the same — could actually help the process this time around. As the Leader pointed out, last year there was a new governor, new leadership in the House and the Senate you had a new session and you were starting from scratch. This year we’re not starting from scratch. Talks have quietly been going on for weeks. Governor Wolf’s spokesman said the governor has hopes for an on-time budget (by June 30). PaFIA will be advocating for an on-time budget that includes a long overdue increase to the $60 million annual allocation to the Film Tax Credit Program.
As an important reminder, all House seats have elections on November 8th, as well as half of the Senate seats. What does that mean? It means that voting for new or increased taxes remains and very RISKY political endeavor. I only hope this won’t be the budget version of Groundhog Day.