LANCASTER, Pa. - With a little more than a week remaining before the state's June 30 budget deadline, Gov. Corbett signaled today that he favors a fiscal plan that does not exceed his $27.3 billion proposal more than one that comes in on time.
"If this budget comes in at $27.35 billion, we're going to be here on July 1, or 2, or 3," Corbett said this morning in a speech to the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners in Lancaster. "I can stay here as long as it takes to pass a budget at $27.3 billion. That's what the state has to spend."
Corbett also said he would likely veto any budget bill that includes a natural gas drilling severance tax or impact fees, arguing his Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission should be given a chance to complete its study and issue a report in July.
"This isn't an issue that should be included in the budget," Corbett said.
"I think it's more important to come up with a good policy rather than jamming one through under budget deadline pressures."
With Senate budget negotiations still underway and numerous pledges by the state's Republican majority to pass a budget by the June 30 deadline, pressure is mounting to get a spending plan done that addresses the state's $4 billion revenue shortfall.
Corbett, in his nearly hour-long speech, said he will not hesitate to exercise his veto powers to ensure the budget bill doesn't exceed the number set in the plan he unveiled in March.
"I made a promise that we would get a budget done on time," Corbett said.
"That will happen if the Legislature doesn't want to spend more money than I do, and if they don't make a move to increase taxes."
After the speech, the governor fielded questions from reporters and commissioners about the numerous proposals in the House and Senate surrounding drilling taxes and fees. He said he would look more favorably at a drilling impact fee that doesn't go into the general spending fund, but reiterated his desire to wait for his shale commission's recommendations.
Toby Cordek, a township manager from McCandless, asked whether or not the state government would soon issue a model ordinance for regulating natural gas drilling. Drilling companies in the state have said they would favor statewide regulation over municipality-by-municipality regulation.
Corbett said a model ordinance will likely be among the recommendations from his Marcellus Shale Commission.
"Any proposal now would be a solution before we have defined the problem. That's not effective policy-making," Corbett said.