House Republicans on Monday blasted their Democratic counterparts as willing to betray their own governor by passing an “unsustainable” and “bloated” budget that goes well beyond what Governor Josh Shapiro was ready to spend.
“House Democrats today completely broke with their governor, Josh Shapiro, by gutting his budget and replacing it with a bloated spending plan that reflects their unilateral priorities,” House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said.
“While Gov. Shapiro’s budget was bad enough, Democrats today have increased spending and raised taxes, bloated state government, and rammed through a massive and unsustainable spending plan with only six hours for lawmakers and the public to read it,” Cutler added. “This is not only gross mismanagement and a lack of transparency by House Democrats, but it is the kind of sneak attack politics that the public abhors.”
Presented with those accusations, Gov. Shapiro’s office gave a somewhat oblique response.
“Governor Shapiro commends the new House Democratic majority for taking this important step forward and adding to our shared priorities as we work to pass a commonsense budget,” said Shapiro press secretary Manuel Bonder. “Now, as this process moves on to the Senate, we look forward to continuing to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to bring people together and deliver a budget that addresses the most pressing issues facing our Commonwealth.”
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The GOP press release alleges House Democrats, who enjoy the majority for the first time since the 2010 session, tacked on another $1.08 billion to $45.9 billion budget introduced by Gov. Shapiro.
They also say that if the House Democrats’ budget were to pass, it would be “a $5.7 billion increase” over the current fiscal year, an increase of fourteen percent.
To put that proposed spending increase in perspective, the legislature would need to approve a more than 30 percent increase in the personal income tax to cover House Democrats’ proposed new spending.
Just as the budget battle began to unfold Monday afternoon, the Associated Press published a story saying the budget would be one of the first serious tests of “whether Gov. Josh Shapiro can manage a politically divided Legislature in his freshman year.”
“It could also set the tone for how the Democratic governor will advance his agenda while balancing the demands of an entrenched Senate Republican majority with those of a one-vote House Democratic majority that took power just this year,” the story noted.
By state law, the budget must be finalized by June 30.
A request to the House Democratic caucus was not returned or was not successful.
Republicans have controlled the state senate since 1994 and currently hold a 28–22 majority there, which means that any budget must come about through compromise among both parties’ leaders in the legislature. As in the federal system, all appropriations bills must begin in the House, but the Senate may offer amendments.
As governor, Shapiro must balance between doing his own party’s wishes in the House and keeping up good relations with the Senate, which is still in the process of approving his cabinet nominees.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com. @shepherdreports