Senate Leaders Respond to Governor Corbett’s Veto of Legislative Budget Lines

July 10, 2014

HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R-34) and Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne (R-16) have issued the following statement in response to Governor Corbett’s veto of State Budget lines and program cuts:

“Today the Governor unilaterally eliminated funding in the state budget, which was timely passed by the Senate and House of Representatives on June 30, 2014. 

“The Governor’s line item veto included operating funds appropriated to the legislature.  These cuts were disproportionately directed at the Senate.  We have serious concerns with the ability of the Senate to function as a central figure in the legislative process with $30 million being stripped from our reserves.

“Over the past three years the Senate has taken a proactive role limiting operating costs and reducing legislative reserves, while preserving the ability to serve our constitutional role as a separate and independent branch of government.  Throughout this period the Senate has shared in the responsibility to decrease spending by returning over $27.2 million to the state.  

“Today the Governor also announced that he has cut, eliminated or placed in budgetary reserves several state programs directly, and through the unprecedented, and likely unconstitutional step of a line item veto to sections of the Fiscal Code bill.  It is horribly concerning that the Governor has elected to cut or withhold funds for items that include hospital programs for low income individuals, educational programs across the state, arts & cultural programs, job training programs & biotechnology research programs.

“The state budget process is not a game to be played and vital government programs should never be placed in jeopardy.  Putting the needs of Pennsylvania residents ahead of politics has always been, and continues to be our top priority.

“Reforming public pension benefits is an important goal that Senate Republicans have been engaged in for months.  On June 30, 2014, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 922, which takes an important first step to move all elected officials, including members of the General Assembly, out of a defined benefit public pension plan to remove this financial burden from taxpayers.

“We are not aware of, and the Governor has not explained the link between the elimination of funding for these programs, along with the legislature and achieving our mutual goal of public pension reform.  While we share the desire to enact statewide pension reform, linking pension reform to punitive program cuts is not a successful strategy. 

“We are disappointed that the Governor has not, to date, been able to work effectively with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate to address important fiscal issues impacting our state.  However, we will not close our eyes to the needs of Pennsylvania residents, and we look forward to continuing to work with the House of Representatives and Governor Corbett to make Pennsylvania a stronger state.”   

CONTACTS:

Drew Crompton (Senator Scarnati) dcrompton@pasen.gov 717-787-7084
Kelly Phenicie (Senator Pileggi) kphenicie@pasen.gov 717-787-4712
Scott Sikorski (Senator Corman)  ssikorski@pasen.gov 717-787-1377
Stacey Connors (Senator Browne) sconnors@pasen.gov 717-787-1349