Republican lawmakers’ reactions on Tuesday to Gov. Tom Wolf’s $34.1 billion 2019-20 budget proposal varied from cautious optimism to accusations of fiscal recklessness.
“I thought the governor’s budget address had a positive message and I thought his emphasis on workforce development was significant and a goal that we all have in common,” said State Rep. Lori Mizgorski, R-Allegheny. “I do have concerns with some of his proposals, but I am eager and optimistic to work with my colleagues to build a consensus on a balanced budget.”
In his budget address to a joint session of the Republican-controlled Legislature, Wolf said the most significant element of the $34.1 billion budget plan, his first since winning a second term, is its efforts to help Pennsylvanians compete in a changing economy by bolstering skills and education.
Including nearly $500 million in supplemental cash for the current fiscal year, Wolf is seeking authorization for another $1.9 billion in new spending, a nearly 6 percent increase.
State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-Centre/Clinton, did not believe that was the way to go.
“Rather than offering solutions that lead to the draining of Harrisburg’s swamp or making Pennsylvania great again, today America’s most liberal governor unfortunately focused on continuing his irresponsible spending and fiscally reckless borrowing against future generations,” Borowicz said.
The extra spending would largely go toward public schools, prisons, pension obligations, health care for the poor, mental health services and social services for children, the elderly and disabled. The administration said the plan carries a half-billion dollars in new initiatives.
“While I am pleasantly surprised that the governor talked about limited government and individual responsibility, his plan is still an almost $1 billion increase in spending over the current state budget,” said State Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Hempfield. “We also are facing almost $500 million in overspending from the current approved budget.”
Most Republican legislators had positive thoughts on Wolf’s proposal to invest in programs aimed at improving worker training and the state’s agriculture industry.
“This is something I believe we can all get behind in order to bring in new jobs and create a more vibrant and competitive business climate in Pennsylvania,” said State Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny/Washington.
State Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, was quick to point out that Wolf’s proposal is just the beginning of the process.
“We need to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ dollars, while still providing the services and opportunities the residents of our state need to live productive, successful lives,” he said. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I look forward to a deeper examination of the details of his proposal and developing a budget that actually works for the people of Pennsylvania.”
For more on the governor’s proposal, see Budget.PA.gov . At the top, watch Wolf’s budget address.