(WHTM) — The budget train got on the tracks this week in Pennsylvania and House Democrats passed their spending plan.
The spending plan is not the final budget, which is due at the end of the month, but it is a sign that June has arrived in Harrisburg.
“Hazleton Area School District in our proposal, check this out, $6.4 million more. $6.4 million,” said Rep. Jordan Harris (D), chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Schools across the Commonwealth would be big winners under the House Democrat budget, which steers a billion more than Governor Shapiro’s ask, which wanted a billion more than last year.
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Republicans insist it fails basic math.
“This budget is a 14 percent increase. 14 percent. That’s even higher than President Biden’s inflation rate. It’s ridiculous,” said Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon County).
“When you increase a budget, regardless of what percentage, that becomes a baseline of where you start your spending the following year. And it has a significant compounding effect,” said Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre County).
“On the federal level they have said for some time that a recession was coming. At some point they will be right and if you’ve spent all the money before recession gets here you’re gonna have tough decisions to make,” Minority Leader Rep. Bryan Cutler (R) added.
Democrats say the state has the money and a court ruling that Pennsylvania schools are unfairly funded.
“You would think the budgetary grim reaper was on his way to Pennsylvania,” said Harris.
The most important math for the Democrat budget is their one-seat majority.
“The yeas are 102 the nay’s 101. The bill passes finally and will send to Senate,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Joanna McClinton (D).
House Bill 300 isn’t the budget and Senate Republicans will almost certainly pare it down and negotiations will tear it down. But it is a plan, on paper, and it passed.
“It is time for the Republican Party House and Senate alike to show their hand to come forward with their plan and show us what their plan is because rhetoric with no plan is just that, rhetoric,” said Majority Leader Rep. Matt Bradford (D). “I learned a long time ago in this House just because you’re loud, doesn’t mean you’re right.”
Capitol watchers learned a long time ago that budgets don’t get hashed out on the floor and in public. The real work is being done behind closed doors, and likely as we speak.