(WHTM) — Appropriations hearings are now over at the state capitol, which means the budget fight, with Governor Josh Shapiro and House Democrats on one side and Senate Republican Leader Joe Pittman on the other will begin. Pittman spoke about his priorities on Monday, April 17.
The top Republican started with a compliment for Pennsylvania’s top Democrat.
“I give Governor Shapiro a tremendous amount of credit in his new role,” Pittman said.
But then, Pittman pivoted, saying Shapiro’s budget spends too much and exhausts the state’s surplus too quickly.
“I can assure you that the Senate Republican Caucus finds that to be unacceptable,” Pittman said.
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Governor Shapiro insists his budget is based on estimates that are more conservative than those from the Independent Fiscal Office. Pittman also objected to the governor’s plan to give tax incentives to nurses, teachers, and police.
“I have not heard any members of our caucus express support for the proposal,” said Pittman.
Shapiro hopes to attract workers to those professions, but Pittman says he’s picking winners and losers.
“If we’re having certain segments of employees receiving tax credits for working, then we’re basically asking the rest of the labor force to subsidize those tax incentives through their work,” Pittman added.
Gas was the gorilla in the room. Republicans are anxious about Shapiro’s energy policy and are uneasy that the plug was pulled on a billion-dollar power plant project in Clinton County. Backers for the plant blamed repeated legal challenges by environmental groups.
“I find it to be unconscionable to have a brand new, modern, low-emission natural gas plant that would produce a thousand megawatts, if I understand correctly, of new electricity into our grid put by the wayside, I think is a disgrace,” Pittman said.
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Will there be an on-time budget for the first-time governor? Pittman says maybe.
“Whether it’s before June 30th, on June 30th, or after June 30th, our caucus’ focus is on making sure it’s a responsible product for the taxpayers of this Commonwealth. And so we’re not wedded to June 30th,” Pittman said.
abc27 asked Senator Pittman how his relationship is with the new Democratic-controlled State House. His answer: ask me in July after the budget is done in Harrisburg.