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Lashing out at lawmakers, Wolf sending billions to Pa. schools, social services

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Gov. Wolf announced Tuesday that he’ll issue a line-item veto to reject major parts of the spending plan passed last week by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled House and Senate.

When the legislature passed a similar budget over the summer, Wolf vetoed the entire package in an attempt to leverage support for the historic funding boost he sought for public education.

Nearly six months past the budget deadline, as schools have been pushed to the brink without any state aid, the governor agreed to sign off on most of the deal, but chastised lawmakers in harsh, insulting rhetoric.

"I’m expressing the outrage that all of us should feel about the garbage the Republican legislative leaders have tried to dump on us," said Wolf, who called the Republican effort an exercise in "stupidity" and "futility."

Wolf said he will veto the main budget line for public education because it falls well short of his goal to boost funding by $350 million.

Instead, he will release six months worth of state aid to schools to help keep their doors open and lessen their need to immediately seek additional loans or further deplete reserves.

Human service agencies would also receive half-year funding.

"We’re now at a point where I don’t want to hold the children of Pennsylvania hostage for the inability of folks here in Harrisburg to get the job done," said Wolf at a press conference Tuesday.

Wolf said the budget hastily approved by the legislature in the days before Christmas was not in balance and would leave the state with a $2.3 billion structural deficit.

Under that spending plan, community colleges and the state’s system of higher education would not see a boost — and the appropriations bills for state-related universities were left undone.

"We still need a budget. We need one that actually adds up, this year. We need one that adds up next year. We need one that fully funds our schools. We need one that really covers the costs of our state," Wolf said.

The budget that Wolf signed includes a $30 million boost each for special education and early childhood education – figures that fall short of his goals.

"It is our sincere hope that the final budget agreement will increase those amounts to $50 million for both programs, including an additional $10 million for Head Start," said state Budget Secretary Randy Albright.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks