With the spotlight shining on him from the balcony of the House Chambers, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf used the state’s largest stage to put House Republican leadership on blast. Afterwards, Republican leaders were angered to the point that their hands were literally shaking as they were addressing the media from their podium.
At the beginning of the speech, the Governor alluded to what he wanted to talk about. Giving Pennsylvanians a world class education from Pre-K through college, creating partnerships between “public and private sectors to help create jobs” and grow the economy, calling for the passage of medical marijuana, or the passage of protections for those in the LGBT community or a raise in the minimum wage to $10.15 an hour, but that did not happen.
Governor Wolf told those in the joint session that “our Commonwealth is in crisis. A crisis that threatens our future.” According to the Governor, Pennsylvania is facing a $2 billion credit deficit. The Governor stated that “this is not about politics” but “this is about math.”
If the deficit is not fixed, education will take the biggest hit, which according to Randy Albright, Governor Wolf’s budget secretary, the cuts will double down on Governor Corbett’s 2011 billion dollar education cuts by possibly forcing another billion dollar cut to public education and 23,000 more teachers losing their jobs. The 14 institution State System of Higher Education and the four State Related universities will see level funding for the fourth year in a row, solidifying Governor Corbett’s 20 percent cut in 2011.
The Governor’s budget will provide education increases that put’s basic education funding levels above the levels when Governor Rendell left office. It would increase funding to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the state relateds by 5 percent, prolonging the Governor’s original promise to restore those cuts in two years.
Towards the end of the speech, Governor Wolf reminded House Republicans what the media has been saying and what the public thinks about the Republican Caucus and the budget stalemate. Wolf told the Caucus “I’m not interested in the inner workings of the Republican caucus” and “if you won’t take seriously your responsibility to the people of Pennsylvania – then find another job.”
As the speech ended, Republican Leadership stormed out of the House Chambers and began speaking to media. On his way out the door, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman told a reporter that the Governor’s tone was not helpful and pushing budget negotiations back even further. Senate President Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati proclaimed that liberalism was “alive and well” in the Wolf Administration and House Majority David Reed stated that the Governor was in Neverland or Fantasyland.
But meanwhile, here’s the budget in 4 seconds: