HARRISBURG, September 17, 2015: State Senator Art Haywood made the following statement today following an extreme compromise offer extended by Governor Wolf to Republican leadership in the state legislature yesterday:
“As a new member of the state senate, I am appalled by the tactics of our Republican leaders. They have deceived the public for six months, opting for intransigence instead of good-faith negotiations on our state budget time and again.
Governor Wolf offered an extreme compromise yesterday that included the Senate Republican’s self-proclaimed top priority for the state: historic pension reform with a shift to 401k plans for new employees. The Governor also offered private liquor system management. The Republicans ignored the offer.
Yet for all the compromises proposed by the Governor, the GOP still refuses to restore funding to Pennsylvania schools with a shale tax, like every other state. That vast majority of Pennsylvanians list education funding as their number one priority and approve of a shale extraction tax.
Citizens have entrusted the state legislature with their lives, and Senate Republicans have responded with reckless deception. I cannot vote for a makeshift “stopgap” budget in this context of pretend negotiations. What the Governor offered to Republicans yesterday was an extreme compromise not supported by many Democratic legislators. It was a noble effort to provide the people of Pennsylvania with a fair annual budget, and went far beyond the initial compromises already rejected by the GOP this summer.
The GOP has equated budget negotiations to a game of poker with bluffing, and the chips are our lives. Our state budget is not a game. It is an enormous responsibility, and the lives of ordinary, hardworking citizens are at stake as housing for the homeless, programs providing food to the elderly and public education are at risk of shutting down operations.
By my count, a majority of the Senate, including Republican members, would vote for a budget built on the compromises Governor Wolf proposed yesterday; however, Senate Republican leadership is holding the entire state hostage with a desperate plan to derail the Governor. The people of Pennsylvania should be outraged by this reckless approach to governing that treats policymaking like a game. Continued Senate GOP obstinacy will further damage our commonwealth and potentially cost the lives of vulnerable Pennsylvanians.”
Contact: Melissa Ostroff