Pa. lawmakers divided on whether to save or spend $10 billion surplus

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A deluge of dollars flowed from Washington to Harrisburg but critics say only a trickle has made it out of the commonwealth’s coffers.

“I am very disappointed. I am raising my voice over this summer hoping that when we get back to the Capitol in the fall we will take care of rescuing Pennsylvanians everywhere. That is why the White House sent money to us,” Representative Joanna McClinton (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) said.

The state has a $10 billion surplus but put $7.5 billion in reserve. The House Majority Leader calls that prudent. “Whoever gets funding from us has assurance that we’re not spending everything we got today and we’ll worry about the future tomorrow. We worried about the future today so we planned for tomorrow,” Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) said.

“I was very frustrated with the lack of an effort to fight the fight to get these dollars out,” Sen. Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery) said. She says saving some is fine. But investing more would be better in things like green energy and water infrastructure.

“There’s people here that do not have access to clean drinking water which I think is a crime,” Sen. Muth said. She says affordable housing and infrastructure are also lagging. “There are people across the commonwealth that can’t get on the internet so people can’t have a zoom like you and I are right now,” Sen. Muth said.

Unmet needs and unspent cash. Minority Leader McClinton blames Republicans. “When they are dug in and refusing to work with and negotiate certain things it ends up becoming useless,” Rep. McClinton said.

But Muth also points a finger at the Governor from her own party for not playing hardball. “I do know what it’s like to have people counting on me to fight for them and so he didn’t fight the fight,” Sen. Muth said.

“I think my budget was pretty good,” Governor Tom Wolf said. He also says historic education funding is a win and to those critics says there’s only so much hardball he could play. “We are in the minority in Harrisburg. I had a weak hand, I played it, I thought, pretty well,” Gov. Wolf said.

Of course, there’s another school of thought that everybody involved would rather hold the money until next year, spend it then. Next year is an election year.

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