Dermody praises Wolf action to end budget impasse

Democratic leader pledges more work to end continuing fiscal crisis

HARRISBURG, March 23 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody believes Gov. Tom Wolf made the right decision in choosing to let the remainder of Pennsylvania’s 2015-16 budget become law without his signature.


“Harrisburg is broken and because of that Pennsylvania faces a budget emergency. The governor is taking steps to buy us all some time,” Dermody said.


“In talking with Republican leaders during the last week it’s heartening that they acknowledged the state’s large budget deficit. The problem is identified. Now we must continue working to fix it,” Dermody said.


Dermody said the spending plan that will become law at 12:01 a.m. Monday doesn’t adequately meet current needs and it fails to solve the state’s continuing budget imbalance. But the measure will allow delayed payments to flow to school districts, service providers and other entities after months of unpaid bills.


“Although this marks the end of the 2015-16 budget impasse, it’s really more of a stopgap measure. It will quickly become clear that we have not yet raised the necessary revenue to pay for the things the state’s obligated by law to do,” Dermody said.


“The problem remains, we lack the resources to pay our bills. A majority of legislators in both parties agree on this. After five years of deficit spending it’s time to face economic reality.


“This can never happen again,” Dermody said. “We cannot let teachers work without pay or force parents to worry about whether their child’s school will close. We must not compel human service providers serving the most vulnerable people to close their doors or lay off staff. But those situations will recur if we don’t fix the real problem.


“We must heed the governor’s warnings and those of the Independent Fiscal Office and all the credit rating agencies. They all agree that Pennsylvania stands on the edge of a fiscal cliff. If we don’t solve the problem, we will have failed the people we represent and proven the cynics right about state government.


“The governor is doing a hard thing, but it’s the right thing,” Dermody said, “And he’s giving the House and Senate a chance to start over with the 2016-17 budget and finally do the job we failed to do for the last nine months.”


Dermody affirmed that if the governor had vetoed the bill, House Democrats would have supplied more than enough votes to sustain the governor’s veto.