This eighth week of the budget impasse turned theatrical as the Pennsylvania House spent hours Tuesday casting line-item veto override votes on 20 items in the Republican budget that Gov. Wolf vetoed in its entirety back on June 30. The Legislative Reference Bureau issued an opinion that under the state constitution the General Assembly must reconsider a vetoed bill in the same manner in which it was vetoed. Therefore, because the governor vetoed the whole budget, it must be reconsidered as a whole “and not on a line-by-line basis.” The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center urged legislators not to waste time on these likely unconstitutional line-item veto overrides.
It was all for naught. They voted anyway and failed to get the two-thirds majority required to override the governor’s veto. PBPC then called for legislators to begin seriously negotiating a sustainable budget. With talks still apparently on hold, a new poll released this week reveals that voters blame the legislature for the budget impasse.
Stopping the game-playing … The day after the line-item veto override votes, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center joined budget coalition partners at a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda to challenge legislators to stop playing games and bring real compromises to the negotiating table. PCN will rerun the press conference at 11:35 tonight and at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, or you can watch the PLS Reporter’s video of it.
PBPC's Jeff Garis & Rev. Sandra Strauss of PA Council of Churches
Fed Up with the Fed talking about raising rates … KRC Executive Director Stephen Herzenberg joined an Action United delegation from the Philadelphia Fed region at a gathering of the “Fed Up Campaign” at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Wyoming in the second half of this week. The campaign is urging the Federal Reserve -- which is holding an annual symposium at the lodge with policymakers, economists and bankers from across the country – to focus on wage and job growth for average Americans instead of raising interest rates.
As Steve said in a KRC press release on the event, “The heartbreaking struggles of people trying to support their families and the hard numbers – on the lack of inflationary pressure, the Depression-era unemployment rates among people of color and wage stagnation – drive home the same message: reducing unemployment and driving up wages need to be the top priority of the Fed for the foreseeable future.”
Fed Up Campaign
Calling for sensible budget compromises … Interim PBPC Research Director and KRC labor economist Mark Price related Pennsylvania’s latest job growth numbers to the need for a sustainable state budget in an op-ed that appeared this week in the Shamokin News-Item and the York Dispatch.
A Goldilockian severance tax … Check out PBPC consultant Jan Jarrett’s latest blog post on Third and State. She notes that the proposed severance tax on gas drilling meets the modified “Goldilocks Standard” in that it’s not too big and not too small but “just right” to produce a stable, recurring source of revenue to help adequately fund education in Pennsylvania.
Just getting by … KRC’s Mark Price issued a press release this week announcing updates to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, which shows what a family needs to achieve a modest standard of living in rural and urban Pennsylvania communities. Mark linked the new figures to the need for an increase in the minimum wage.