Stopgap? We don't need no stinking stopgap.
We need a budget, a full-on, long-term, no-tricks budget. And we don't think lawmakers – or voters – should put up with a proposal that stops short of that.
Passage of a stopgap measure would provide a portion of the state's yearly funding for social service providers and schools – "essential services." Republican senators plan to introduce such legislation when they return to session Wednesday, PennLive's Christian Alexandersenreported.
On the surface, we appreciate that Republican lawmakers are attempting to do something in light of the budget impasse, which is nearing 80 days. We assume that both sides are quite frustrated by a lack of apparent progress. And we are well aware that is was Gov. Tom Wolf, by choosing to veto the entire Republican-approved budget earlier this summer instead of using his line-item powers, who caused this situation.
We realize that as we call for a rejection of a stopgap budget, it makes it sound as though we are rejecting compromise, and we are rejecting money for essential services, agencies and schools that need it. On the second point, you would be right. It's unfortunate that these groups continue to be the most affected pawn in this budget game, and we are sensitive to the fact that without a budget being approved, they will struggle.
However, what urgency would there be to pass a full budget with a stopgap measure in place?
We are not rejecting compromise. In fact, rejecting a stopgap budget is a call for more compromise. With a stopgap measure in place, this impasse could drag on for many more months without compromise because there would be fewer reasons to do so – namely, groups complaining about a lack of funds.
Politically, the Republicans are in good position because they can approve a stopgap measure and put Wolf in position to – once again – stand in the way of agencies and schools getting their money. Don't think they don't know that. If they pass a stopgap budget, they have the high ground again. They can tell everyone that they initially passed a full budget and Wolf rejected it. Then they passed a stopgap measure, and Wolf ... well, we aren't sure what he would do, and he's not tipping his hand.
Regardless of what Wolf does with that piece of legislation, however, Republicans win. If he signs it, then they have led the governor to approve what they brought forth. If he rejects it ... heaven forbid, Republicans can say, he has done it again and stood in the way of funds for those who need it.
We know this will fall on deaf ears: But please, Republican senators, don't bring forth a stopgap budget this week. It's not the answer to Pennsylvania's budget impasse. Even bringing it up for a vote is a bad idea. Refocus that energy on a full budget agreement.
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