Gov. Wolf signs Pa. budget; vetoes election reforms

Pennsylvania Politics

Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM) — Gov. Tom Wolf signed the state budget Wednesday. It includes more money for public schools.

He also vetoed a bill that would require voter ID among other election reforms.

The budget package is about $40 billion.

It doesn’t increase taxes and puts billions of dollars in federal COVID aid into reserve for the coming years.

Lawmakers and education advocates are celebrating the $416 million increase for public education in this year’s budget.

“Help is on its way and more is to come. The state budget invests in places that we know resources are needed the most,” Pa. Department of Education Secretary, Noe Ortega, said.

It includes a $200 million increase in the fair funding formula, $100 million to support the 100 most under-funded school districts through the Level Up Initiative, 50 million for special education, $30 million for early education, $20 million for Ready to Learn, $11 million for preschool Early Intervention and $5 million for community colleges.

“This is an important step forward and it’s worthy of celebration, but we still have work to do,” Wolf said. “We still have a long way to go before education in Pennsylvania is fully and fairly funded, adequate and fair funding. We don’t have that yet.”

In exchange for the increased school funding, Wolf repealed a regulation that would have expanded overtime eligibility for p-a’s lowest salaried workers.

“This is what you do when you’re trying to get the best possible budget you can,” Wolf said.

Wolf also vetoed a sweeping Republican-led election reform bill authored by state Rep. Seth Grove.

“It’s a really sad day in Pennsylvania that we can’t have trust between the two branches of government to move heavy issues that are important to Pennsylvanians,” Grove said.

Wolf also vetoed a line item that would have established a bureau of election audits under the auditor general’s office.

“The concern that I had was this was going to be another effort to relitigate the 2020 presidential election. I think 8 months on, let’s move on,” Wolf said.

Grove is calling Wolf a liar.

“He knew it was being funded. Everybody at the negotiating table understood what the $3.1 million was for. He agreed to it and he broke his promise,” Grove said.

Republicans are now looking at a constitutional amendment to require voter ID. The bill has to pass in two consecutive sessions, so the soonest voters could decide is May 2023.

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