HARRISBURG - If Gov. Wolf continues to insist on raising taxes as part of any state budget deal, "we're going to be here for a while," a top Republican warned Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) made the prediction after emerging from a brief closed-door meeting with the governor.
He said the Republicans who control the legislature are open to raising new revenue but cannot support Wolf's plan to raise the state's personal income and sales taxes. The governor wants to use a block of that money to pay for a sweeping property tax-relief plan.
"I don't want to give any sort of illusion that we're getting closer or we're having productive meetings," Corman told reporters. "They're very cordial. The governor makes his case - he wants enough revenue so he doesn't have to worry about this for four years. I respect that.
"But the people of Pennsylvania need enough revenue in their pockets so they can pay their college tuition, they can pay their taxes, they can pay their mortgages," he said.
Corman spoke after GOP leaders met with Wolf and a small group of administration officials for about 30 minutes in the second floor executive office suites at the Capitol. His comments were a blunt reminder that nearly a week after missing the deadline to enact a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, the two sides remain far apart on core issues.
Talks are expected to continue every day this week, but they are largely expected to be between staffers from both camps, rather than face-to-face meetings between the governor and Republican leaders.
Wolf remained in the offices after the meeting and did not speak to reporters. He is scheduled to resume his statewide pitch for his budget plan during an appearance Wednesday afternoon at Downingtown Middle School in Chester County.
Senate leaders on Tuesday announced that they would reconvene the chamber next Monday, even though they could not say exactly what they would be voting on. The House has not scheduled session days this month.
The longer the impasse lasts, the more of an impact it will have on state services. Although state employees will continue to be paid as long as they show up for work, the state will be unable to send money to thousands of contractors, as well as local governments and nonprofit organizations that provide a range of human services.
Wolf contends Republicans have been unwilling to compromise, and has criticized their budget counterproposal as one that would worsen the state's deficit while doing little or nothing for public education.
"This is the same legislative team that has given us multibillion-dollar deficits, annual fiscal crises, and numerous credit downgrades," Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said after Tuesday's meeting. "It is time for the Republicans to stop ignoring math and to stop pretending that their same gimmicks, irresponsibility, and deficits will help move the Commonwealth forward."
Taxes - and whether to raise them - appear to be the main sticking point.
The governor has proposed raising the state's 6 percent sales tax to 6.6 percent - a 10 percent increase - and the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent - a 20 percent increase - to raise about $4 billion. (Philadelphia's 8 percent sales tax would remain unchanged.)
Much of the money raised from those tax hikes would go toward funding Wolf's proposed property tax-relief plan, worth $3.8 billion, for all 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.
Wolf has also proposed a new 5 percent tax on natural gas drillers, plus a per-cubic-foot fee on gas, which together would raise roughly $1 billion for public education.
Republicans last week passed a $30.1 billion budget that would not have increased taxes, but would have boosted dollars for public schools - although not near the levels Wolf wants. The governor vetoed it just hours before the new fiscal year began.