Government that Works Requires a Governor Who Compromises
When he took office in January, Gov. Tom Wolf promised Pennsylvanians a “government that works.” Approximately six months later, Pennsylvania stands on the edge of a potential government shutdown. How could so much go so wrong so quickly?

The governor in March unveiled an extreme budget proposal that included billions of dollars in new and increased taxes.

His proposal called for increases in the income tax and the sales tax. You would have paid higher taxes on dollars you earned and dollars you spent.

Out of respect for the governor, the House brought his plan up for a vote. Each and every member of the state House – Republicans and Democrats – voted against the governor’s tax increases. The bipartisan vote was 0-193.

With the governor’s proposal off the table, the House and Senate began working to adopt a reasonable state budget. Legislators from both chambers approved a balanced, on-time state budget that increased state support for schools without placing any additional burden on taxpayers. The spending plan would have funded the core functions of government without raising your taxes.

The governor vetoed the budget. The state Capitol is now in gridlock and state programs and services are on the verge of shutting down.

Few Pennsylvanians want their state government to look more like the federal government in Washington, D.C., where partisan politics prevail and gridlock prevents any chance for progress.

The worst part is the fact that it didn’t have to come to this.

Pennsylvania allows its governors to veto specific parts of a budget while accepting other parts.

There are approximately 400 specific appropriations, or “line items,” in the state budget. In the plan approved by the Legislature, approximately 275 – or nearly three out of every four – of those line items met or exceeded the governor’s request.

The governor threw the entire budget away when he vetoed the full bill. While the governor and Legislature agreed on a majority of the budget, Wolf refused to sign any of it into law.

I am ready and willing to work with my colleagues in the Legislature and the governor to approve a balanced, responsible budget for the citizens of Pennsylvania. It is unclear whether or not the governor is willing to work with the General Assembly to meet that goal. I hope he will join us in the important work that needs to be done to move Pennsylvania forward.

A government that works requires a governor who compromises.

Representative Lee James
64th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing
717.772.9845 /
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