There are many theories as to why the latest budget deal blew up. So let’s run threw a few of them.
Did They Have the Votes on the House Floor?
This is theory number one. After the events on Tuesday when close to two dozen House Republicans broke rank with leadership to strip the stop gap language out of Senate Bill 1073, it became clear that the House had the votes to send Governor Wolf the budget he wanted. Legislators told me that that is the reason why Mike Turzai did not bring it up for a vote and adjourned until further call. The House Speaker and Majority Leader both claimed that the House will be on a 6 hour call over the next week, but many believe that they will not be back in town until January 4.
Remember the Pension Vote that Sunk Like a Lead Brick?
Last week, the pension bill sunk like a lead brick with 66 Republicans voting against it. The bill failed in such spectacular fashion it left people scratching heads. Were the House Republicans THAT bad at vote counting or was it sabotage? I’m beginning to lean towards the second choice because of the inter-chamber fued that is developing between the Senate and House Republican Leadership.
Pension reform is the Senate’s baby. They want that above anything else, and the agreement in the House was that the Republicans will pass pension reform because the Democrats will not throw up the votes and the Democrats will put up the majority of the votes needed for the tax package. The longer the House Republicans put off the pension reform votes, the longer they avoid bringing a tax package up for a vote in the House. Effectively, a vote against pension reform in the House is a vote against tax increases.
What About that Feud between the Chambers?
There’s a lot going on between the two chambers. At Monday’s House Appropriations Committee, State Senator Scott Wagner was sitting right in front of the House Republican’s podium as they were making the case for a stop gap budget, and when the House was making parliamentary maneuvers on Tuesday he was hanging in the House balcony.
Then there’s the on going fight between Jake Corman, Joe Scarnati and David Reed, Mike Turzai. When the pension bill failed, Corman was standing on the Rotunda steps shouting at the House, and one lobbyist predicted that Mike Turzai and David Reed will end up doing the same because they don’t want to be left carrying the “shit stick.”
Well, on Wednesday, we watched Mike Turzai and David Reed lob their own bombs at the Senate for not producing a tax package that the House can vote on. Even with the fighting happening within the House leadership, there is fighting and bruised egos between the four top Republican leaders with State Senator Scott Wagner wielding his metaphorical baseball bat to keep legislators – or campaign cash recipients – in line.
Wolf Must Veto the Budget
If you thought the last six months were bad, Governor Wolf must veto the stop gap budget to keep government functioning over the next four years. If the Governor were to sign the latest stop gap attempt he will invite the petty politics and continual stop gap maneuvers that House Republicans have brought to Washington DC. Governor Wolf needs to squash this now, or deal with crisis governing that we’ve seen in DC for the past seven years.