$100M private schools bill starts Pa. budget season fight
Wolf signals plans to block the bill.
HARRISBURG — Legislation to substantially expand taxpayer support for private and religious schools in Pennsylvania won passage Tuesday in the Republicancontrolled Legislature, although Gov. Tom Wolf is signaling that he will block it.
The public dust-up ramps up a fight between supporters of public and private schools in the thick of negotiations between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor over a roughly $34 billion budget package.
The bill passed the state Senate on a party-line basis Tuesday, a month after it passed the Republican-controlled House on near-party lines.
Wolf said he would look at the legislation, but not whether he will veto it.
“What I’ve heard doesn’t sound real good,” Wolf told reporters after an unrelated news conference in his Capitol offices.
Republicans, Wolf said, haven’t explained how they would finance the $100 million cost of the bill, and he criticized tax credits programs as lacking control or accountability.
Wolf, who campaigned for office on raising support for public schools, said he is still working to increase aid for a public education system in Pennsylvania he called underfunded.
“It seems to me to be at odds with that need of a government in a democracy like ours to support broad-based, accessible public education,” Wolf said.
The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-allegheny.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is backing the state’s effort to take over its online health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act in a bid to cut premiums for hundreds of thousands of people.
The Republican-controlled House voted 198-1 on Tuesday for the just-unveiled legislation.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is pressing for the bill to pass this month in the hope that its savings measures can be in full effect in 2021. The bill now goes to the Senate, where majority Republicans aren’t saying whether they support it.
Wolf ’s administration says it can operate the insurance exchange for less money than the federal government.
It wants to use the savings to qualify for extra federal dollars and then use the combined cash to lower premiums for 400,000 people who buy policies in the marketplace.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Republicans have not explained how they would finance the bill’s $100 million cost.