Senator Aument Comments on Governor Wolf’s Partial Veto of State Budget

HARRISBURG – Senator Ryan Aument (R-Landisville) today offered comments on Governor Wolf’s partial veto of House Bill 1460, legislation that would have enacted a compromise $30.26 billion budget to fund state government operations for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“Today Governor Wolf did what he should have done six months ago – release state and federal monies to our schools, human services and other critical state programs.  I applaud his decision to keep school doors open and finally help the people he was elected to serve,” said Sen. Aument.

Unlike his previous vetoes of the entire General Appropriations Act, the Governor exercised his line-item veto authority on the spending plan sent to him on Christmas eve, choosing to advance approximately $23.4 billion of the $30.2 billion that was appropriated in House Bill 1460.

“The good news is that some money is finally flowing out of the State Treasury,” said Sen. Aument.  “The bad news is that Governor Wolf continues to create problems through his vetoes and remains committed to finding ways to raise taxes on the people of Pennsylvania.”

In exercising his line-item veto authority, the Governor chose to eliminate nearly $100 million that was appropriated to the Department of Agriculture, including programs that are critical to the success of family farms and agricultural operations.

“The Governor owes the people of Lancaster County an explanation as to why he made this decision,” said Sen. Aument.  “Agriculture drives our region and our state’s economy – it’s the top industry.  Why in the world would you punish agriculture?”

The Governor also eliminated $940 million out of $1.8 billion that was earmarked for the Commonwealth’s corrections institutions.  Again, no reason was offered.

One of the largest cuts Governor Wolf made was to basic education.  While the General Assembly appropriated $5.6 billion for 2015-16, the Governor used his line-item veto authority to reduce that to $2.5 billion, less than half of what the schools should have received.

“There is no justifiable reason for the Governor to so radically eliminate funding for schools,” said Sen. Aument.  “The budget the General Assembly sent him included an additional $405 million for schools, something he should have welcomed.  Instead, he marked up basic education funding with his veto pen, eliminating monies for school children and creating a future school funding crisis.”

Sen. Aument noted that other areas of the budget that were reduced or eliminated altogether by Governor Wolf include diabetes programs, monies for regional cancer institutes, programs for services for children with special needs, hemophilia, lupus, regional poison control centers, trauma prevention, epilepsy support services, bio-technology research, Tourette syndrome, funding for ALS support services, and other health research and services.

Governor Wolf also eliminated monies appropriated for medical assistance (hospital-based burn centers and critical access hospitals), as well as medical assistance capitation.

“It makes no sense why Governor Wolf would target these vulnerable populations,” said Sen. Aument.  “I find it unconscionable that he would fully fund his own Governor’s Office and elect to short-change these vital programs.”

Until today’s action, the budget impasse was the longest ever recorded in Pennsylvania, leaving the Commonwealth to be the last state in the nation without an enacted spending plan.

In his press conference touting the partial veto of the state budget, Governor Wolf called House Bill 1460, “a ridiculous exercise in budget futility,” “garbage the Republican legislative leaders have tried to dump on us,” and an “exercise in stupidity.”

Sen. Aument noted the legislation, which was supported by some Democrat lawmakers, reflects the realities of Pennsylvania’s economy and the ability of taxpayers to fund their state government.

“Governor Wolf should tread lightly on his rhetoric,” said Sen. Aument.  “The General Assembly is the assembly of the people, from all walks of life, from every corner of our Commonwealth.  When he calls us ridiculous and stupid, he really is calling the people of our great state those names.  I honor those that I serve, and as our Governor, he should as well.”

CONTACT:  Jake Smeltz, (717) 787-4420