Burns votes to end year-long budget impasse

‘The time has come to halt high-level gamesmanship, fund government’

HARRISBURG, March 16 – Stressing the need for everyone to come to grips with political and economic reality, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today was one of 13 Democrats who cast a yes vote on a 2015-16 state budget bill put forth by Republicans who dominate both Houses of the legislature. The measure was approved, 128-63.

Burns said with last year’s unfinished budget bleeding into preparations for the upcoming 2016-17 budget, and with his constituents adamant about not wanting any new taxes, his vote was about ending the political gamesmanship between House Republican leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

“What I voted for today is a no-new-taxes plan that the vast majority of my constituents tell me they want,” Burns said. “It also increases spending by 3 percent overall, and ups public school aid to a total $200 million more than the prior year.”

Burns said he, along with most of his constituents, can’t fathom Harrisburg’s dysfunction reaching the level where the state contemplates voting on a 2016-17 budget while the prior year’s budget remains in limbo.

“Nine months into the current fiscal year, these two sides are still at loggerheads. Something had to give,” Burns said. “How can we start work on a new budget without finishing the old one? My vote today was to bring closure to an embarrassing failure that’s dragged on for way too long.

“As kids, we’re all told that sometimes, a half a loaf is better than none. For me, the schools and social service providers in my district, and the people I represent, this is one of those times.”

Burns said with many school districts across Pennsylvania already having had to borrow money, and with closure of some a real possibility, H.B. 1801 made even more sense to him as a reasonable compromise.

“To me, it’s more important that we finish a budget that was due last June 30 than continue this political brinksmanship over who’s going to blink first,” Burns said. “As the record clearly shows, in the last nine months that’s gotten us nowhere. The time has come to halt high-level gamesmanship and fund government.’”