It took nine months, but the Commonwealth learned yesterday that Gov. Tom Wolf relented from previous remarks and said he would not veto the most recent state budget.
The new budget will go into effect on Sunday.
A number of local legislators who represent Clearfield County, along with other groups, spoke out after the budget announcement was made Wednesday.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway) was one of the first to issue a statement.
“Gov. Wolf’s decision (Wednesday) to allow House Bill 1801 to become law will actually move our Commonwealth forward. After over nine months of Governor Wolf continually refusing to sign the complete budgets presented to him by the General Assembly — he has finally ended the crisis he created,” Scarnati said.
“Senate Republican Leaders and Gov. Wolf have very different philosophies of how to govern. While the governor looks at raising taxes as the first course of action to close the budget deficit, we look at reforms as a first course of action. Before asking for more of our constituents’ hard-earned dollars, we should be sure that government is doing all that we can to operate efficiently,” Scarnati continued.
“Today’s completion of the 2015-16 budget is a victory for Pennsylvania taxpayers and families. Because of the budget passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, schools, hospitals, and the many vital programs that depend on state funding will finally receive what they need. Being a leader is about bringing people together. As we now look towards completing a budget for 2016-17, we hope to see more leadership and not partisan politics from the governor.”
U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-Bellefonte) expressed relief that the 267-day budget impasse will soon come to an end. Federally-appropriated funding will also be released for Penn State Extension, which faced the possibility of 1,100 layoffs as soon as May 1.
“While it is a relief the budget crisis will come to an end, I remain disappointed that children in schools across the state, members of our agricultural industry and those who depend on our state’s nonprofit agencies were held hostage throughout this budget process,” Thompson said in a prepared statement.
“It is my hope that the governor understands that funds appropriated by the federal government are not pawns to be used for political leverage — and that with talks underway on next fiscal year’s budget, that this crisis is avoided in the future.”
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau said it was thrilled to learn that the 1,100 jobs at Penn State Extension would be saved.
“Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is thrilled that state funding will soon be available for critical agriculture programs, including more than $50 million to avoid the anticipated shutdown of Agriculture Research facilities and Cooperative Extension offices across the Commonwealth.
“Governor Tom Wolf’s decision not to veto House Bill 1801 effectively completes the 2015-16 state budget, which will automatically go into effect without the Governor’s signature.
“The influx of state money will save vital agriculture research and extension programs administered by Penn State University, which are so critical to farmers, the public and the state’s economy,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “In addition, it saves more than 1,100 jobs at Penn State and ensures that Pennsylvania does not become the first state in the nation to achieve the dubious honor of losing its Land Grant University.”
The new budget also provides $1.1 million for Agriculture Excellence programs, more than $1.5 million for Agriculture Research conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, $250,000 for Agriculture Exports, and $177,000 each for the Dairy Show and Livestock Show. Meanwhile, the Animal Health Commission will receive $5.35 million, the Veterinary Lab System will get $5.3 million and Pennsylvania Fairs will acquire $4 million through the Racehorse Development Fund.
“With the planting season right around the corner and the possible risk of new pests, diseases, avian influenza or countless other issues that challenge agriculture, farmers and the public need assurances that vital services and personnel will be on the job to identify, contain or negate those problems. The funding included in the new state budget should provide those assurance for agriculture,” concluded Ebert.