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Pa. Budget Stalemate Drags On; No Compromise In Sight


Pennsylvania blew past it's deadline to approve a to budget more than four months ago. The Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature are deadlocked over taxes and spending. Neither side seems interested in compromise. Here's Mary Wilson from our member station WITF.

MARY WILSON, BYLINE: In the current political standoff, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans both say they're staying true to their loudest supporters. The increasingly conservative Republican legislature is dead set against tax increases, but Democrat Tom Wolf got elected governor campaigning for tax increases.


TOM WOLF: We all want what's best for Pennsylvania. I don't know of anybody who's doing this just for the sake of doing it or for posturing. We actually have deeply held beliefs.


DAVE REED: The governor seems to be on a campaign trail where they just talk in sound bites.

WILSON: That's House Republican leader Dave Reed. Republicans have fiercely resisted Democratic plans to hike taxes. Governor Wolf says the money is needed to plug a huge budget deficit and pump more money into education. Harrisburg resident, Charles Peguese, supports the governor's defiant stance.

CHARLES PEGUESE: Absolutely. We've all got to have some pain, but in the long term, it's going to be beneficial if he can hold out.

WILSON: Holding out has meant the state has entered a partial government shutdown. Schools and human services agencies aren't receiving their state funding, leading some to skip their bills, curb services or take out loans. In September, Republicans passed an interim budget that would've freed up money for education and other services. The governor vetoed the proposal insisting that he wants a long-term solution. But that's not a good enough reason to keep schools and nonprofits waiting, says Senate Republican leader Jake Corman.


JAKE CORMAN: Do you even care whether this is temporary money? I don't think they care. I don't think they care that their doors are going to stay open - that they can pay their employees.

WILSON: Barb Ernico runs a foundation that's been collecting money to help keep community shelters afloat while their state funding is frozen during the impasse. She can't believe the politicians have let things get this bad.

BARB ERNICO: We probably have more division now in the legislature than we have had in a long, long, long time. These guys are just not working together.

WILSON: It used to be, in Pennsylvania, lawmakers would celebrate the passage of a hard-fought piece of legislation by saying, see, we're not like Washington, D.C. No one's saying that anymore. For NPR News, I'm Mary Wilson in Harrisburg.

INSKEEP: We'll have a bit of news on personal budgets this afternoon, on NPR's All Things Considered, expert advice on how to save for college and retirement. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.