Wolf Releases Budget Hostages in Budget Battle

Wolf Releases Hostages in Budget Battle

After Six Months, Funding Finally Flows to Students & Needy

December 29, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Today, Gov. Tom Wolf announced he will finally release emergency funds to school districts and social service providers, saying, “We’re now at a point where I don’t want to hold the children of Pennsylvania hostage.” This decision comes six months after Wolf chose to withhold funds from students and the poor by vetoing a similar budget in its entirety on June 30.

Wolf also said he will line-item veto significant portions of the General Assembly’s budget—which he termed “garbage legislation”—and falsely claimed the budget contains a $95 million cut to education funding.

Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, issued the following statement reacting to Wolf’s budget announcement:

Over the last six months, Governor Wolf refused many opportunities to send emergency funds to local school districts and social services organizations serving the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

Instead, Wolf held critical funding hostage—even over the Christmas holiday—in his ongoing push for higher taxes and more spending. Finally, the governor relented and freed these budget hostages—something he should have done half a year ago.

The governor’s absurd and dishonest claim that the budget before him somehow cuts $95 million from public education reveals his lackluster leadership throughout this prolonged process.

In truth, public school funding would increase by $404 million under the General Assembly’s budget.

Only by trickery and deliberate obfuscation can hundreds of million in additional spending be called a “cut.”

Education spending is already at record levels and exceeds the national average by $3,000 per student at over $15,000. The Legislature has compromised on Wolf’s goal to boost education funding above and beyond this record high, despite the lack of real reforms or accountability measures.

There is simply no appetite among the general public or in the Pennsylvania General Assembly—from either Democrats or Republicans—for the dramatic tax hikes required to fuel Wolf’s full spending agenda. While this budget stalemate is far from over, Pennsylvanians should be pleased they have evaded five major attempts by the governor to raise their taxes.

Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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