Kortz, Gergely blast decision to cancel session in midst of budget impasse

HARRISBURG, Dec. 11 – State Reps. Bill Kortz and Marc Gergely, both D-Allegheny, blasted House Speaker Mike Turzai’s decision to cancel a scheduled day of session today in the midst of a six-month budget impasse.

“Since June 30, our schools, human services providers, counties and all Pennsylvanians have been waiting for the General Assembly to come to an agreement and finish the budget that was supposed to begin on July 1,” Kortz said. “It’s taken longer than expected, but last month all four caucuses and Governor Tom Wolf came to an agreement. Since that time, House Republicans have backed out of the agreed-to framework twice and now, as the Senate has sent most of the budget-related bills to the House, the speaker unexpectedly decides the House needs to take a day off. This is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

“As former steel industry employees, both Representative Kortz and I understand that hard-working families across the Mon Valley are doing their job day in and day out to provide for their loved ones,” Gergely said. “For them to be waiting on state government to pass a budget and see the House take a day off as we get closer and closer to a deal is embarrassing and only reinforces the view of a dysfunctional government. In my opinion, it’s a tremendous mistake by the speaker and I really can’t come up with any explanation for it besides more political gamesmanship. At this point in the impasse, that’s simply offensive to Pennsylvanians.”

Senate Bill 1073, a General Appropriations bill that contains the spending framework agreed to by Gov. Tom Wolf, House Democrats, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans, passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote on Monday and was received in the House Tuesday. No action has been taken on the bill since that time.

“We all compromise on things we want every single day,” Kortz said. “It’s a part of our life and I would urge the speaker to remember this and come back to work, call the House back into session, and sit down with legislators from both sides of the aisle to finish this budget.”

“The most important thing is getting back to the agreed-to framework that the governor will sign and all caucuses have agreed to – twice,” Gergely said. “Our schools have suffered, our human services providers have suffered, our counties are suing the government, and it’s only going to get worse the longer it goes on. This is no time to take a break. It’s time to sit down and get this budget over the finish line and provide the funding that’s so desperately needed.”