By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
In last week’s outlining the issues surrounding the 2017-18 state budget, I promised readers a detailed timeline of all budget-related events that have transpired this year. Here is that timeline:
Feb. 7: Gov. Wolf presents a budget with increased spending and higher taxes.
April 4: The House passes a more responsible budget ($31.83 billion) that decreased spending, while still prioritizing funding for important government functions like schools, health and safety.
April 5: House Republicans offer a package of revenue options to pay for its plan through existing revenues and other non-tax avenues, including liquor reforms and gaming expansion.
April 25: The House begins passing five liquor reform bills, which are still awaiting Senate action.
June 7: The House passes gaming expansion, including video gaming terminals (VGTs).
June 12: With Gov. Wolf still absent from any talks, the House majority leader calls on the governor to come to the negotiating table during a pension reform bill signing.
June 27: At the request of the House majority leader, a brief budget meeting is held with Gov. Wolf, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and House Majority Leader Dave Reed.
June 30: A $32 billion spending plan passes both the House and Senate.
July 1-9: House and Senate Republican leaders work on compromise revenue options for Gov. Wolf to consider. All non-tax options are rejected by the governor, who continues to insist on higher taxes.
July 10: Gov. Wolf officially rejects the last and final compromise offered by the House and Senate Republicans.
July 10: While publicly criticizing the plan, Gov. Wolf allows the $32 billion spending plan to become law without his signature – for the third time in his three years in office.
July 11: While attempting to find common ground on revenue options, the House passes welfare reforms (House Bill 59).
July 22: The House convenes to discuss the revenue stalemate and remaining options before recessing to a six-hour call of the chair.
July 26 and 27: The Senate returns to session, approving more than $500 million in new taxes on home heating, cell phone and cable bills, as well as $1.3 billion in new borrowing.
July 28 – Sept. 13: The House begins a thorough review of the Senate tax plan. Republican Appropriations Committee members meet to prepare an alternative revenue package that protects taxpayers. Talks between House and Senate leaders continue. After forming an independent working group, a team of 17 House members present the “Taxpayer’s Budget,” which would fully fund the existing spending plan without any new or increased taxes or borrowing.
Sept. 13: With significant direction from the group’s blueprint, the House passes the “Putting People First Budget,” which would also fully fund the existing spending plan without any new or increased taxes or borrowing.
Sept. 17: The state treasurer and Gov. Wolf delay $1.7 billion in Commonwealth payments for the first time in history…putting manufactured fear in the hearts of Pennsylvanians…
Sept. 20: Standard and Poor downgraded the Commonwealth’s credit rating from an AA-rating to an A+ rating. The same day the governor goes on a 14-county tour of Northern Pennsylvania instead of working to resolve the budget with the Legislature.
Oct. 9: The governor announces plans to unilaterally monetize the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo center.