Following the failure of a fatally flawed pension bill, Pennsylvania House Republican leadership is moving toward the passage of a stop-gap budget – a short-term bandaid that does little to increase funding for Pennsylvania’s schools and does nothing to fix the structural deficit facing the Commonwealth.
Gutting retirement security should never have been a perquisite to passing a responsible budget. Proponents of pension “reform” often claim that we need to cut benefits in order to fix Pennsylvania’s pension debt problems, but the bill that failed in the House on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis would have ultimately increased costs by $1-2 billion. That’s not reform, nor fiscal responsibility.
The failure of an expensive pension gutting bill is not a reason for the House to not fulfill the responsibility to pass a complete, fiscally sound budget. The state has suffered enough during this nearly six-month impasse. Schools may close their doors in the New Year, and non-profits are cutting staff and turning away those in need.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman made that clear, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “We are still looking for a 12-month budget. That is our goal.” Governor Wolf has announced that he will veto a stopgap budget.
We need real solution. The Senate already passed a responsible budget that makes the investments our state desperately need. The House should follow suit. It’s time to pass the complete budget that Pennsylvanians want and deserve.