Erie Times-News: Our View: Wolf Takes The Reins In Budget Fight

* The GOP-controlled House, however, refused to take it up and after failing to pass its own revenue package, left Harrisburg for a six-week vacation. Their return to the state capital delivered only more failure to responsibly fund the spending it has already approved.

* When a GOP-backed hotel tax and a warehouse tax failed to gain enough support this week, and Republican House members thwarted a move that would have allowed consideration of a shale tax, Wolf intervened. The governor said Wednesday he will take control of state finances in the absence of a revenue plan…

* House Republicans oppose tax increases. But their failure to responsibly fund a spending plan they approved has cost taxpayers in the form of the state’s recent credit downgrade. Their stance is also undermined when some prove open to taxing businesses and consumers via a steep hotel tax, but refuse to even discuss a tax on the oil and gas industry, which as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, spent more than $60 million in Pennsylvania on lobbying and political donations.


Erie Times-News: Our view: Wolf takes the reins in budget fight

By the Editorial Board

The solution or at least some version of it has been laying on the table since the GOP-controlled state Senate in July passed a revenue plan backed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to fund the state’s bipartisan $32 billion 2017-18 spending plan.

The measure called for a bond, higher utility taxes and a severance tax on the state’s natural gas drillers, a levy that is supported by a majority of Pennsylvanians.

The GOP-controlled House, however, refused to take it up and after failing to pass its own revenue package, left Harrisburg for a six-week vacation.

Their return to the state capital delivered only more failure to responsibly fund the spending it has already approved.

When a GOP-backed hotel tax and a warehouse tax failed to gain enough support this week, and Republican House members thwarted a move that would have allowed consideration of a shale tax, Wolf intervened.

The governor said Wednesday he will take control of state finances in the absence of a revenue plan and borrow $1.25 billion against state Liquor Control Board revenues to keep the state solvent.

The borrowing would permit Wolf to backfill most of the prior year’s deficit and reduce the need for temporary borrowing. He pledged to cut spending through attrition and other unspecified measures.

His plan would not address a $650 million bill sitting in the House to fund four state universities, including Penn State University’s main campus and the University of Pittsburgh. Without the funding, these schools, the most prestigious public universities in the state — are at risk of becoming private institutions. This matter remains unresolved and now the House is out of session again, with no plans to reconvene until Oct. 16.

House Republicans oppose tax increases. But their failure to responsibly fund a spending plan they approved has cost taxpayers in the form of the state’s recent credit downgrade. Their stance is also undermined when some prove open to taxing businesses and consumers via a steep hotel tax, but refuse to even discuss a tax on the oil and gas industry, which as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, spent more than $60 million in Pennsylvania on lobbying and political donations.

Wolf appears open to receiving a revenue plan based on compromise. He pointed Wednesday to recent bipartisan successes — liquor reform, medical marijuana, measures to combat the opioid crisis and the state’s new fair funding formula for public schools — and urged Republican leaders to forgo their recent failed tax proposals and vote on a severance tax.

We join in that call. Ideological purity is not a worthy goal in a state as sprawling and diverse as this and it no excuse to shirk good governance. Get back to work.

Read the editorial here.