HARRISBURG - In yet another turn of the political carousel that is the still-unapproved state budget, Gov. Wolf said Wednesday that he would veto the latest spending plan passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.
"Republican leaders are once again insistent on passing another irresponsible and unbalanced budget that does not fund our schools or fix the deficit," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "This is further indication that the Republican leaders have no intention of working together with me to produce a final budget."
The Senate and House approved a $30 billion spending plan Wednesday that would increase funding for public schools, but would not raise new revenue through increases to the sales or income taxes.
Republican leaders say that some public schools that rely on state aid are again on the brink of shutting down, and that swift action on the long-overdue 2015-16 budget must occur to avoid that. They said Wolf should sign the spending plan they are sending him and negotiate tax increases for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"We are in an emergency situation," said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Jefferson). "Let's stop looking at what this budget isn't and focus on what it is."
"This document has not been negotiated," said Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. "It's a political gimmick, unfortunately."
During debate on the measure Wednesday, Hughes urged Senate leaders to postpone the vote and instead walk down the Capitol hall and meet with Wolf in his office.
"This process," he said, "needs to be about compromise."
Wolf wants to new or increased taxes to close a gaping deficit and boost education funding. He and Republicans have been unable to reach a consensus during the last nine months.
As the stalemate has dragged on, schools that heavily rely on state aid have warned that without a resolution, they may have to close.
If Wolf vetoes the latest spending plan, the legislature could try to override it. That would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers, meaning Democrats would have to break ranks.
Some Republicans privately say that with elections nearing, the pressure on Democrats to end the impasse will increase.
Since a tentative deal fell apart late last year, there have been scant negotiating sessions between the governor's office and legislative leaders.