HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A stalemate in Pennsylvania’s Capitol showed no signs of chipping away Tuesday as state government moved forward into its fiscal year with a nearly $32 billion budget that was badly out of balance and legally questionable.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf remained out of sight Tuesday, and top lawmakers reported no new efforts to secure agreement on a $2 billion-plus revenue plan that negotiators say is necessary to stitch together the state government’s threadbare finances.
Wolf let the bill become law without his signature at midnight Monday — his second straight year doing so — after unsuccessfully pressing the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve a tax package he deemed to be big enough to avoid a downgrade to Pennsylvania’s bruised credit rating.
A revenue package that had been under construction in closed-door negotiations was to rely primarily on borrowing and involve another big expansion of casino gambling in the nation’s No. 2 commercial casino state.
The absence of active talks Tuesday left some House members suspecting that the chamber’s Republican majority leaders would recess the chamber indefinitely.
Rank-and-file House Republicans reported hearing nothing from their leaders about the stalemate or even about major elements of the package that had been under negotiation before talks collapsed Monday.
“I’ve talked to a lot of other members and nobody has heard a word about what is going on,” Rep. Eugene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, said.
The Senate, at least, expected to remain in session beyond Tuesday in an effort to secure a revenue agreement with Wolf and the House.
“We still think there’s some shuttle diplomacy to be had,” said Drew Crompton, the top aide to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson.
House Republican leaders were at odds with Wolf, Democratic lawmakers and Senate Republican leaders over how to come up with the $2 billion-plus.
House Republican leaders were also the only ones to protest Wolf’s move to let the budget bill become law without striking out enough spending in it to ensure it balanced with the state’s existing tax collections.
House debate on other budget-related bills was expected to go into Tuesday night.
Last year, the Legislature sent an on-time, bipartisan spending bill to Wolf, but with no plan to pay for parts of it.
Wolf let the plan become law without his signature when the 10-day signing period expired and lawmakers delivered a $1.3 billion funding package three days later.