Sniping between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature resumed after Wolf, as expected, vetoed the $11.2 billion stopgap budget lawmakers passed early in the fall session.
Pennsylvania is entering its fourth month of a fiscal 2016 budget stalemate.
Wolf, in his Sept. 29 veto message, said the temporary spending plan “once again sells out the people of Pennsylvania to oil and gas companies and Harrisburg special interests.”
The governor’s agenda includes a severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling to help fund educational programs and balance the commonwealth’s budget. Tax changes, school funding, pension overall and liquor store privatization are the budgetary dividing points.
Wolf also proposed $3 billion in pension obligation bonds in his original $30 billion budget proposal.
The stopgap budget had included $1 billion in missed payments to schools and hundreds of millions of dollars to social-service agencies.
“It’s shameful to watch Gov. Tom Wolf singlehandedly withhold funding for our schools and social services so he can try and force tax increases,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said in a statement.
Moody's Investors Service rates Pennsylvania's general obligation bonds Aa3. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's rate them AA-minus.
All three downgraded the commonwealth last year, citing chronic structural imbalance and an estimated $53 billion unfunded pension liability.