HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Outgoing Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) says moving $50 million was standard operating procedure during a changing of the guard. Democrats, however, are saying it was done in secrecy.
Prior to his speakership ending in late November Rep. Cutler ordered the money to be moved out of various accounts and into the Republican leader accounts, which he controls.
Democrats are alleging that Rep. Cutler is trying to hamstring the next Speaker of the House by removing their funding, calling it a looting of the Treasury.
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Rep. Cutler says the money was accumulated by Republicans and although it’s taxpayer money, Republicans have control over it.
“The money that was allocated in the budget, some of it under the direction of the Speaker, some of it under the direction of Majority Leader. That was Republican caucus money and then the Democrat’s money is obviously under the Democrat’s leader’s signature,” said Rep. Cutler. “That’s the way it’s been for each of the last 12 years and at end of the day we left them more money than they left the last time power transitioned.”
Democrats in Harrisburg don’t agree and say the move was done without notice.
“Speaker Cutler spent the past few days speaking ‘ad nauseum’ about secrecy and about the need for transparency,” said Appropriations Chair Rep. Matt Bradford. “Moving $50 million with no public notice literally on the last days of his reign tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity.”
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Rep. Cutler says there was nothing secret about the decision. Memos requesting the transfer were public, as were the transactions themselves on the Treasury website.
The House Democratic Caucus also responded to Rep. Cutler’s transfers, calling them “irresponsible.”
The Republican leader’s draining of an exceptionally large amount of operational funds of the General Assembly and the subsequent quiet transfer to accounts only within his control as Minority Leader before relinquishing the Speakership is meant to be an intentional setback for the House Democratic Caucus, and in turn the body as a whole. This unprecedented action leaves the new speaker with no reserves and a limited operating budget for this fiscal year. Through the authority granted to him by the membership of the House when they elected him as Speaker, Rep. Cutler took this irresponsible action only after learning the results of the November election.Nicole Reigelman
Office of Majority Leader Joanna McClinton
The arguments are part of ongoing tensions in the State House over who holds the balance of power after a close November election. Three seats remain open after the death of Rep. Tony Deluca, Rep. Summer Lee being elected to Congress, and Rep. Austin Davis being elected Lieutenant Governor.
Davis will be sworn in as Lieutenant Governor in January 2023 alongside Governor-elect Josh Shapiro.