Wheatley calls on House GOP leaders to return to work and complete budget

HARRISBURG, July 12 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today called on the Republican leaders of the state House of Representatives to return to Harrisburg and complete work on the overdue 2017-18 state budget.

“I am requesting that the speaker of the House call the House back into session and keep working until we successfully vote on a revenue package that pays all of the bills of the commonwealth,” said Wheatley, Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. “The spending bill has gone into effect but we still need to pay for it with sustainable funding.”

Wheatley said the legislature’s dismissal – the House and Senate are on a six-hour recall notice -- came Tuesday just hours after the governor allowed the spending plan to lapse into law without his signature.

“House Democrats are ready to roll up our sleeves and finish what is needed,” Wheatley said. “We are prepared to find common ground, make the difficult-yet-responsible choices, and get the job done.”

Wheatley said no more than 18 percent of the majority Republicans’ proposed-but-stalled revenue package consisted of recurring revenue needed to fix a structural budget shortfall exceeding $2 billion.

“It’s our duty to step up to the plate and make the tough choices to pay for all of the services and spending priorities everyone agrees we want and need,” Wheatley said. “We need a responsible plan and not the GOP’s cocktail of voodoo economics that includes more borrowing, more debt and more reliance on gambling and liquor.”

Wheatley said the House GOP leadership’s decision to abandon work on the budget amounts to thumbing their noses at responsibility.

“Just last week, Standard and Poor's downgraded the state’s credit-rating outlook to ‘negative,’ and made it clear that Pennsylvania’s credit rating is tied to the completion of a responsible budget,” Wheatley said. “Another credit downgrade would dig Pennsylvania’s fiscal hole even deeper, increasing taxpayer costs and adding somewhere around $10 million in interest to every $1 billion that is borrowed.”

Wheatley said a George Mason University analysis released this week ranks Pennsylvania’s fiscal condition 45th among the states.

“The people of Pennsylvania demand and deserve better,” Wheatley said.